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What’s the difference between a frog and a toad?

The Answer

The usual differences are what you might expect (green and slimy vs. brown and warty), but you may not be aware that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

You can probably tell the difference between a frog and a toad, right? If you’re walking through the forest and see a hopping creature that looks kind of like a leaf, it’s surely a toad. If you’re walking along a shoreline and you see a slippery, green creature hop into the water, it’s a frog, right?

Generally, those are accurate descriptions and would serve you well in an amateur ‘is it a frog or a toad’ contest, but some of each type diverge from the standard.

In fact, there is one definitive difference (thought not an observable one).

…all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

Difference between toads and frogs | Wildlife Preservation Canada

Both creatures are amphibians that belong to the order Anura, generally known as frogs.

Toads mostly fit into the family Bufonidae, whose nearly 500 species are considered “true toads.” (It’s the only all-toad family in Anura.) At the other end of the spectrum, about 600 species in the family Ranidae are specified as “true frogs.” That leaves thousands of anurans somewhere in between.

Treehugger – What's the Difference Between Frogs and Toads?

The defining characteristics of true frogs and toads are pretty much what you would expect.

True Frogs

  • smooth, slimy skin
  • bulging eyes
  • long webbed hind feet
  • generally in or near water
  • long sticky tongues

True Toads

  • warty and dry skin
  • short hind legs
  • generally on land away from water
  • non-sticky tongues

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