We have all heard the fairy tales: the princess had to kiss a frog or the bad guy was turned into a toad, but why are these creatures so maligned in folklore? Personally, I think frogs are adorable, love finding them in my garden and would have absolutely no problem at all kissing their sweet little webbed toesies; but, I digress. Would you rather kiss a frog or be turned into a toad? Well; one cannot make an informed magical decision unless one understands the pros and cons of each choice; begging the question: what is the difference between frogs and toads?
Firstly, let’s start with outlining the commonly known distinctions between frogs and toads:
Frogs live in damp, moist environments and have shiny, smooth skin. They are slim in the body with long, striped legs and webbed feet for swimming. Frogs will almost always be found near a body of water. They are more timid than toads and will likely hop away if you approach them. Their tongues are longer and stickier for catching more adept prey.
Toads live on dry land, although they lay their eggs in water. Toads have a squatter, rounder body with rough, bumpy skin. They have short back legs and non-webbed toes. They prefer to walk, but will hop short distances if they need to. They are bolder than frogs, and not likely jump away if approached unless they feel threatened.
There are some creatures who legitimately fall into both categories, or have less obvious distinctions. There are frogs with bumpier skin and toads with slimy skin, for example. All frogs and toads are members of the order Anura, but “true toads” are in the family Bufonidae. To further confuse things, all members of the family Anura can be called frogs; including what we call toads and true toads. So, in summary, frogs and toads can be classified as follows:
class ~ Amphibia (amphibians)
order ~ Anura (frogs and toads, although all members could correctly be called frogs)
family ~ There are 33 different families in order Anura, and all are frogs, but only one of these families, Bufonidae can be called “true toads”
Of special note; male true toads have an organ called a Bidder’s Organ. Under the right circumstances, this organ can develop into an ovary, effectively making him a female. In addition, some toads secrete bufotoxin; a general name given to any number of substances secreted through glands in their skin. Many bufotoxins are poisonous and/or used recreationally as hallucinogenic drugs.
So, now you can make an informed decision. Would you rather kiss a frog or be turned into a toad?