Species Information

How To Tell The Difference Between Frogs And Toads

In the UK there are a number of different species of frogs and toads though of course the most regularly seen are the Common Frog and the Common Toad. Even these two species are often identified incorrectly so I thought it might be useful today to explain some simple ways to be able to distinguish between frogs and toads.

Generally speaking the Common Frog is more likely to have a more pointed face than the Common Toad which tends to have a rounder and blunter face. Frogs also prefer to hop while toads will generally walk unless they are surprised and want to make a quick escape.

The skin can also help you tell the difference between the two species; the frogs skin is generally smooth and shiny-looking while that of the toad is generally warty and often has a matt-effect look to it.

The toad has a poison gland behind the eye which looks like a large swelling and this is absent in the frog.

Lastly in the breeding season the eggs of these two species look very different. Whilst the frog lays it’s frogspawn in a large jelly-like mass, the toadspawn is laid in long, thin strands rather than one large mass.

There are, of course, just as many similarities as their are differences. They both breed in the water. They will both jump if surprised or scared. They generally eat similar prey. They will often be found away from water when out of the breeding season (though they still like moist areas such as hiding under rocks or under thick plant cover).

Even the colours of these two species can be so variable that saying that toads are brown and frogs are green isn’t entirely correct and can’t really be used for identification purposes.

Reread the above points for telling Common Frogs from Common Toads then take a look at the following photos to “get your eye in” on the subtle differences between the two species. Then as a final test, see if you can work out whether the child in the phot at the top is holding a frog or a toad…

Common Toad photo:

Bufo bufo bufo (Hauts-de-Seine 92)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cheloran ©

Common Frog photos:

Rana temporaria ssp. (Pyrénées Orientales 66)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cheloran ©

Rana temporaria ssp. (Pyrénées Orientales 66)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Cheloran ©

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2 Comments

  1. You’re right Ray. Not sure how I made that glaring error 😉 Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment – hope to see you here more often.

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