About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frog and Toad

Today I spotted an American Toad Bufo americanus in the garden. They're very common in mid-Michigan but this one was a real character. While I was working in the garden, I think it came out of its self made mulch burrow just to watch me fuss with the flowers.

Toads always make me smile. Some of the first books I was able to read to myself (and still my favorites) were from the series Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. The two protagonists are similar in appearance to the real amphibians. Frog is taller and greener, and Toad is short, stout, and browner.

Frogs and toads, along with the salamanders, are members of the class Amphibia. Amphibians are characterized by a life cycle which begins with an unshelled egg laid in water. The egg hatches into a gill breathing larva (called a tadpole or polliwog in frogs and toads). The larva gradually develop legs, lungs, and other modifications for life as an air breathing adult capable of living on land.

But how can you tell a frog from a toad? It's been said that a toad is just a lumpy frog. Toads do have thicker, more warty skins compared to the smoother skin of most frogs. Toads are adapted for drier conditions like suburban gardens unlike frogs which spend most of their time by water. Also toads have shorter hind legs than frogs and move in short hops or simply walk instead of making long leaps.

And by the way, neither frogs nor toads, will give you warts! That is just a myth.

Sources: Michigan DNR
and Reptiles & Amphibians of Michigan Field Guide by Stan Tekiela available at Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing, MI

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