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AMPHIBIANS

Tensas River NWR

FROGS

Frogs have a nasty reputation as associates of witches and dangerously mischievous boys. But, we assure you, North Louisiana frogs are nice amphibians. They don’t practice the dark arts, and they rarely play pranks. While we’re on the subject of these nice amphibians and their reputations, we don’t suggest kissing them, either. Seriously, we’ve seen where they hang out.

Frogs do serve an important role in the ecosystem. Because their diets consist primarily of insects, they are invaluable to Louisianans hoping to limit their contact with flies and mosquitoes to a few hundred instances a day. (We would all love for our favorite amphibians to knock that down to a couple of swats a day; but, it’s still Louisiana, and frogs aren’t really magical.)

The most famous species that live in North Louisiana are the American bullfrog and the green tree frog. The American bullfrog is the largest frog in North America and grows large enough to eat crawfish, other frogs, small birds and snakes. The green tree frog is the most famous of all our frogs and toads, but most people don’t realize it. The green tree frog, also our state amphibian, was the prototype for Kermit, that lovable swamp frog that moved to Manhattan! Unfortunately, Kermit himself is from Mississippi.

True frogs are members of the Ranidae family within the Anura order, whereas toads are members of the Bufonidae family within the same order. If you want to know how to identify a frog or toad…they’re those things that hop that aren’t rabbits or armadillos. If you want to tell the difference between toads and frogs, that's a little trickier. Frogs are generally smooth and have a sheen to them, whereas toads are more course and bumpy. Toads also have shorter legs than frogs, which is why you never see toad legs on the menu at your favorite restaurant.

Telling the difference between frog and toad eggs is a little easier than telling the difference between the amphibians themselves. While both animals lay their eggs in water, frogs lay their eggs in clusters while toads lay theirs in long chains. Most species of both animals lay their eggs in calm water, where they hatch into tadpoles about one to three weeks after fertilization. At about five weeks old, the tadpoles lose their gills and tails and can live outside of the water.

Adult frogs, like other amphibians, breathe using lungs, as well as through their skin. True frogs will stay semi aquatic but will venture away from the water… and into the road (as you know if you’ve ever driven in Louisiana on a summer night or if you’ve ever played Frogger). Adult toads, however, will spend much more time on land than in the water.

Where to Find North Louisiana Frogs & Toads

You can find North Louisiana frogs almost anywhere, including your own yard! You can also find them near ponds, creeks, wetlands, and especially in roads. We don't suggest playing Frogger with them, though. That's just mean.