Story Behind the Science
Frogs make up 85 percent of all amphibians, occupying all continents besides Antarctica. They can jump far distances to find food, to escape a predator or to simply move from one place to another. Tree frogs, like other frogs, are great at getting around.
Tree frogs are often known for their loud nature and their ability to climb difficult surfaces. These frogs have rough, sticky adhesive discs on their toes that allow them to climb trees, leaves, walls and other surfaces. Some tree frogs have additional traveling aids, like claw-shaped fingers and toes or webbed feet and hands.
Since frogs are cold-blooded, their breathing slows down during the winter months, forcing them into hibernation. During this time, frogs will sleep burrowed in the soil, in a garden, at the bottom of a pond or in another secluded area till the warm weather returns.
Frogs and other amphibians throughout the world face threats ranging from natural predators to the destruction of their natural habitats. Perhaps the most serious threat to amphibians is habitat destruction. Anything from cutting down trees to building houses and roads have a negative effect on biodiversity. This disturbs the food chain and lifecycle of all wildlife involved, including frogs.
Another major threat to frog populations is disease, specifically chytridiomycosis, a deadly amphibian skin disease caused by a chytrid fungus. The disease is thought to have originated from the African clawed frog of southern Africa. These frogs were exported throughout the world in the 1940s and are known to be popular lab animals. As a result, the spread of chytridiomycosis around the world has been noted as the source of many amphibian extinctions.
Introduced species are also a common threat to many frogs. These species are known as non-native to the place they were introduced to. As a result of their introduction, they are forced to compete with, and prey on, the habitat’s native amphibians and other wildlife.
Some solutions to the population decline of frogs and other amphibians include captive breeding, reintroduction to their natural habitats and the removal of non-native species.
Did You Know?
- Some amphibians, including one species of frog (the Bornean flat-headed frog), do not have lungs. As a result of evolution, these amphibians can “breathe” through their moist skin.Learn More »
- There are three types of amphibians: frogs, salamanders and caecilians.Learn More »
- Frogs lay their eggs (called spawn) in moist clumps, while toads lay their spawn in long strings. Frogs also have teeth and typically move by jumping, whereas toads do not have teeth and move by walking.Learn More »
- The many colors of frogs act as a warning or distraction to predators, while some frogs’ colors also indicate that they are poisonous. Learn More »
- A group of frogs is an army, chorus or colony. A group of toads is a knot or nest, and a group of salamanders is a band.Learn More »
|Compare & Contrast||Tree Frogs||Frogs|
|How many species?||800||6,000|
|Where do they occur?||Tree frogs can be found throughout most of the world. As their name suggests, they typically live in trees, though some live among smaller plants or on the ground.||Frogs are found throughout the world, except in Antarctica, with the highest concentration of diversity in South America.|
|What do they eat?||Tree frogs catch crickets, flies, moths and other insects with their long, sticky tongues.||Tadpoles eat algae, dead organisms and other tiny water creatures. Most frogs eat insects like flies and slugs. Others can eat small birds or even other frogs.|
|Do they have predators?||As eggs, their main predators are snakes, wasps and spiders. As tadpoles, their predators are shrimp, water bugs and fish. Once they evolve into frogs, predators include spiders, birds and snakes.||Frog predators include larger amphibians, fish, snakes, turtles, birds and mammals.|
BBC Earth, "Red-Eyed Tree Frogs vs. Cat-Eyed Snakes - Jungle Nights"
Conservation Organizations for Tree Frogs & Amphibians
- Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project
- Amphibian Conservation, Association of Zoos & Aquariums
- Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
- Amphibian Specialist Group, Global Wildlife Conservation
- Amphibian Conservation Program, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute - Center for Species Survival