Let’s learn about frogs

Frog or toad, these amphibians are fascinating critters

an orange and green frog stands on a rock with one back leg, the other back leg in the air

Frogs like this one in Indonesia form a diverse group of thousands of amphibious species.

shikheigoh/Getty Images

April is National Frog Month. And if you’re not already a fan of frogs, you might be thinking: What’s all the fuss? But there’s a lot to admire about these little amphibians.

There are thousands of frog species. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Some frogs are called frogs. Other species are known as toads. Toads are frogs that tend to have drier, bumpier skin than other species. They’re also less likely to hang out in or near water.

No matter where they live once an adult, though, frogs typically begin their lives in water. Through metamorphosis, they shapeshift from swimming baby tadpoles to hopping adult frogs. Adult frogs are known for their impressive tongues, which they use to catch their meals. Some frogs can snatch meals as big as mice and tarantulas.

While a few species of frogs, such as the goliath frog or cane toad, can grow to weigh over 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), many frogs are tiny. And so some have some pretty neat tricks to avoid becoming some other critter’s snack. Congolese toads, for instance, may go undercover as snakes. Others camouflage themselves into their background or dress themselves in bright colors to advertise that they’re toxic if eaten. And still others just hop, hop away. Sure, some frogs are a little derpy, like hopping toadlets that just can’t seem to stick the landing. But that’s part of their charm.

There’s another, far grimmer reason that frogs deserve attention, too. A fungal skin disease is wiping out huge numbers of them. Scientists are studying how some frogs survive the disease to help others from dying out.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Pumpkin toadlets can’t hear themselves talk Tiny orange frogs make soft chirping sounds in the forests of Brazil. Their ears, however, cannot hear them, a new study finds. (10/31/2017) Readability: 7.0

Lots of frogs and salamanders have a secret glow A widespread ability to glow in brilliant colors could make amphibians easier to track down in the wild. (4/28/2020) Readability: 7.6

A Bolivian frog species returns from the dead A Bolivian frog was missing in the wild for 10 years. Scientists feared chytrid fungus had driven the frog extinct. Then they found 5 survivors. (2/26/2019) Readability: 7.9

It ain’t easy being green — or yellow, apparently.

Explore more

Scientists Say: Metamorphosis

Scientists Say: Larva

Scientists Say: Amphibian

Let’s learn about amphibians

Frog’s gift of grab comes from saliva and squishy tissue

Congolese toads may avoid predators by copycatting deadly vipers

Why these jumping toadlets get confused mid-flight

How these poison frogs avoid poisoning themselves

Why some frogs can survive killer fungal disease

Flu fighter found in frog slime

A new drug mix helps frogs regrow amputated legs

Could Wednesday Addams really jolt a frog back to life?


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Want to support amphibian conservation? Join FrogWatch USA. Volunteers in listen for frog and toad calls and add their observations to an online database. These data can help scientists understand the health of amphibian populations across the country.

Maria Temming is the Assistant Managing Editor at Science News Explores. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

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