This week’s nature challenge was on frogs. Originally, I wanted to go out and find some tadpoles for the kids to put in an aquarium and watch, but apparently it’s a little late in the season for that. I also checked a few pet stores, and all they had were bullfrog tadpoles–we decided against that (you either have 2 choices when it comes to what to do when the tadpoles grow up…you can keep the frog as a pet, but bullfrogs are sort of noisy demanding pets. Or you can release it, and the environmentalist in me does not really want to release a “pest” species into our environment.) So, we took a different path for our challenge and instead decided to compare frogs with toads.
Some of the facts that we learned were:
-Frogs have smooth “slimy-looking” skin while toads have dry, wartier skin.
-Frogs need to live near water, and toads only breed in water.
-Frogs have many predators, whereas toads emit a type of “poison” that keeps many predators from eating them.
-Frogs have high round eyes whereas toad eyes are more football shaped.
-Frogs hop long distances, and toads walk or do small hops.
-Frogs have narrower bodies and toads have rounder more broad bodies.
-Neither frogs nor toads give people warts.
We were lucky in that we were able to observe both frogs and toads this week, right in our neighborhood.
And then, to add a bit more challenge to it, we observed Jedi’s Fire Belly Toads ( Bombina Orientalis)–he has 2 of them as pets. We tried to figure out if they were actually frogs or toads. They have bumpy warty skin like toads, but they live in water much of the time. We also have one with a narrow body and one with a broad body.
It turns out that Fire Belly Toads are neither true frogs nor true toads. They are actually in their own family, Bombinatoridae, because their characteristics do not fit solidly into either the frog nor the toad category. (Oddly enough, before we even knew that, Jedi named his pets “froggy” and “toady”. And he must have had some inkling of the difference because the smaller narrower toad he named froggy…the large broad one he named toady.
Some other facts about our little Fire Belly Toads:
-Only male FBTs make noise…they bark like a dog when they want to mate.
-Our FBTs mate several times a day. So far, we have not had any eggs laid though.
-The skin of our FBTs change color throughout the day, ranging from almost black to a very bright neon green.
-Froggy (the boy) spends 99% of his time (when he’s not mating… 😉 ) floating around in the water. Toady (the girl) spends 99% of her time hiding in the cave on land.