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Frogs and Toads 101

Martha Stewart Living Television, January 2011

For most kids -- and many adults -- frogs and toads can be endlessly fascinating, although few people know very much about them. Frogs and toads look alike, but toads tend to find homes in drier environments. Both start off as tadpoles but develop at different rates.

Toads have stubby bodies with short hind legs, which they use to walk rather than hop -- the preferred gait of a frog. Toads possess warty dry skin and poisonous glands behind their eyes. When laying eggs, they tend to do so in long chains. Frogs have two bulging eyes and long, powerful webbed feet that aid their swimming. They have smooth, somewhat "slimy" skin and lay their eggs in clusters. Notable members of the frog family include the bullfrog, leopard frog, marsh frog, pickerel frog, and wood frog.

Raising a frog or toad is easy while they're in the tadpole stage. All they need is a small aquarium with live plants and a filter, and they do well with a diet of pellet foods made for bottom-dwelling tropical fish. Once they've reached maturity, you'll need to customize their homes.

Some frogs, such as bullfrogs and leopard frogs, like an aquarium with a small amount of water and a selection of rocks on which they can dry themselves. Other frogs, such as Argentine horn frogs, like to burrow into sand and gravel. They'll require a small tank with an inch or so of moist gravel. Tree frogs and toads thrive in tanks with a bed of wet sphagnum moss (which must be kept wet at all times) and rocks and branches for climbing. Most toads and frogs are fine at room temperature, but tropical frogs will need a heat lamp. Frogs and toads have identical diets. Large creatures eat goldfish, while their smaller relations do fine with crickets that have been dusted with a vitamin mineral supplement. Multiple frogs can live together, as can multiple toads, but you shouldn't mix the two species.

Learn more about amphibians in "Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates: An Identification and Care Guide" (Barron's Educational Series; 2001).

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