What I learnt this week: 25th June 2015

Toads look like frogs but it’s best not to kiss them

We had a gorgeous visitor to our garden this week. He was walking along the grass by our pond.

Toad 1

‘A frog!’ I yelped enthusiastically (I don’t get out much).

‘A toad.’ I was informed.

I’d always thought toads were big ugly looking creatures, and this little guy was cute. So what is the difference between a frog and a toad?

Hastily I did some research.

Visually the most obvious difference seems to be that frogs have smooth, moist skin that makes them look slimy.

Tree frog

Our little visitor had rough, dry, gnarled looking skin. Warty, they say. Frogs also have a slimmer body compared to their more stubby looking counterparts. When it comes to hind legs, the frogs are longer, enabling them to take graceful high jumps. The poor toad is left walking and hopping.

Are you starting to see where this is going?

It strikes me that the toad has a rough deal in life. The frog is the sexy one, despite its more bulging eyes. The toad is the ugly friend, shuffling about awkwardly as his mate struts his stuff, flashing his long legs, smooth skin and slim torso.

But the toad gets its own back. It might have the skin of a weathered rhinoceros, but it lets out a bitter taste and smell that burns the eyes and nostrils of those who try to eat it. And behind each eye are glands which produce irritant, foul-tasting toxins to deter would-be predators. Or those who mistake it for a frog and try to kiss it. After all, with a face like this, its hard to resist.

Toad 3 Toad 2

What we had in our garden was a common toad, though we thought he was pretty special :-)