Have you ever been outside playing a game of hide-and-seek when you came across what looks like a really bumpy, odd looking frog? Well don’t go ‘jumping’ to conclusions too soon! What you just found may actually be a toad! Although at first glance these amphibians may both seem to be slimy, bug-eating, hopping machines, they have some major differences.
Frogs are usually smooth in appearance and do not have any warts, unlike toads, which are often very warty. They also have very webbed back feet, whereas toads have only a little webbing. Toads have a poison gland, called a parotoid gland, on their shoulders, but frogs do not. This gland secretes a substance called bufotoxin, a type of neurotoxin, which can be harmful to predators, but usually not harmful to people. But to be safe, don't go kissing any frogs and toads hoping they'll turn into a prince!
Of course nature is never black and white, and there is one species in Alberta that is considered a toad, but also looks like a frog - the Plains Spadefoot! They are smoother and less warty than most toads, have vertical pupils, and less of a poison gland, but still live on land and have some warts.
Another good way to tell the difference between animals is by the sounds they make. Birds make lots of different sounds, and so do frogs and toads! Listen to a wood frog, boreal chorus frog, plains spadefoot, and Canadian toad.
Amphibians are very sensitive animals. They are often used as indicators, and help scientists learn about water quality and the health of an ecosystem. Click here to find out more about amphibians or help scientists keep track of frogs and toads with Frogwatch.
Thanks to Carissa Wasyliw for helping with this blog post.