Part 2: frog behavior and cultural significance to people

Let’s learn more about frogs!

Frogs come in a wide range of sizes, from tiny species less than 0.3 inches (8 mm) long that live in leaf litter in the rainforest …

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

… to the giant Goliath frog, which can grow to 13 inches (32 cm) long and weigh up to 7.2 pounds (3.25 kg).

Giant smooth-sided toad. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frogs are carnivorous. Most eat insects and other invertebrates.

Photo: Giant monkey frog. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

However larger frogs, like cane toads or the bullfrog, may eat other frogs, lizards, fish, and even small mammals.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frogs are eaten by a wide range of other animals, making them an important part of the food web. 

Gmelin’s Bronzeback snake (Dendrelaphis pictus) eating a frog in Malaysia. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frogs are even eaten by people.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

In some cultures, frogs are valued beyond food as religious symbols.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frogs typically communicate by vocalizations. These calls are highly diverse across species.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frog use their calls to attract mates, defend their territories, and scare away predators.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Frogs have different strategies to protect themselves from predators.

Rhaebo haematiticus frog. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Some frog species rely on camouflage, disguising themselves as leaves, to hide from predators.

Leaf toad in the Amazon. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Other frogs take the opposite approach, advertising their toxicity or bad taste with bright warning coloration.

Blue poison dark frog from Suriname. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Poison dart frogs are the best example of warning coloration.

Granular Poison Frog in Costa Rica. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

These brightly colored frogs derived their toxicity from the ants and other invertebrates they eat.

Almirante strawberry dart frog (Oophaga pumilio). Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Poison dart frogs are found widely in the Americas. Some frogs in Madagascar take a similar approach.

Varadero morph of Ranitomeya imitator. Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

While the bioactive skin molecules that protect many frog species can be toxic, some have been used to create medicines.

Cristobal strawberry dart frog (Oophaga pumilio). Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

The giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) is known for its mind-altering skin secretions. Shamans in the Amazon rain forest have used this species in hunting rituals.

Photographer: Rhett A. Butler

Author and photographer: Rhett A. Butler