Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Outdoor Hour Challenge–Frogs July 28, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 11:41 am

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.

At dusk, we found a family of toads living near a neighbor's driveway

Our toad observations happened on a nice clear warm evening.

One of the toads, hopping along the driveway

The much bigger toad


Close-up of the big toad

Frog in the mud hole

Another frog...note the rounded eyes and narrow body. Also note that a frog has longer back legs than a toad of the same size does.

A frog looking right at us

Peeking out of the water

Where we found the frogs...yep, we still haven't gotten that pond in the ground. But right now, the mud makes for some good observations!


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.


Toady again



2 Responses to “Outdoor Hour Challenge–Frogs”

  1. We will revisit tadpoles in the spring when more of us can observe tadpoles up close. We will be ready though won’t we???

    We have fire bellied toads too and at first it freaked us out to here the dog barking sound….couldn’t figure out what it was until we did some research. Thanks for the info on these creatures. Great comparing frogs and toads was done in your study. I love it.

    Thanks for sharing your frog study.

  2. Phyllis Says:

    Love your photos! They are great. Great nature study.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s