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How to Tell the Difference Between Frog & Toad Tadpoles

Updated March 23, 2017

Both frogs and toads start their lives as tadpoles. After they grow beyond the tadpole stage their similarities and differences are more visible to the natural eye. Frogs have smooth, slimy wet skin, while toads have dry rough skin with markings that look like warts. Toads are wider and fleshier than the skinnier frogs. A frog has longer legs and webbed feet and lives in water, while toads live on land and walk, rather than jump like frogs do. If you can get close enough to check out teeth you'd discover that frogs have a row of tiny teeth while toads don't have teeth.

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Visit a pond or the amphibian house at a local zoo and ask to view some frog and toad eggs.

Observe the way the eggs are laid. Frog lay eggs in bunches that look like clusters of grapes. Toads eggs are laid in a long strips of tiny beads, which are held together with a jellylike substance.

Look closely at the colour of the tadpole eggs. The frog tadpole eggs will be speckled and lighter in colour. The toad tadpole are smaller, about the size of a thumbnail, and black.

Ask the zoo curator where the eggs are in the tadpole development stage. When the eggs are first hatched both the frogs and toads emerge as tadpoles. Both look like small fishlike creatures. If the tadpoles are a month old, ask to see one close up to determine if it has teeth. This would mean it is a frog tadpole and not a toad tadpole, because toad tadpoles do not grow teeth. If the frog tadpole is six weeks old it develops a head and some hind legs, which are longer than a toad tadpole's. After nine weeks, the frog tadpole looks more like a frog with a long tail, and you can distinguish the difference between a frog and toad tadpole. The frog will start to look like a baby frog with smooth slimy skin.

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About the Author

Dan Boone has been writing since 1999. His work has appeared on CaribbeanChannel.com and he wrote for the "Virgin Voice" magazine and its website, Virgin Voices. Boone has a Bachelor of Arts in composition and arranging from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also holds a certificate in digital-sound engineering from the Trebas Institute in Montreal.