Simply put, a frog is an amphibian in the order Anura. This order encompasses amphibians which are colloquially referred to as toads, along with frogs; among biologists, the terms “frog” and “toad” have no firm distinctions. These adaptive little amphibians can be found almost everywhere on Earth, with the exception of extremely cold regions like the Arctic and arid regions like the Sahara desert.
Frogs have a number of traits which make them readily identifiable to even the casual eye. They are tailless, an unusual state of affairs for amphibians, and they also have extremely muscular hind legs, adapted for jumping, rather than conventional walking. Frogs also have protruding eyes and webbed feet, allowing them to swim with ease, and their skin is typically quite moist, appearing either smooth or bumpy, depending on the type of frog.
Commonly, people refer to rough-skinned amphibians in the Anura order as “toads,” and smooth-skinned specimens as “frogs.” Sometimes, creatures in the family Bufonidae are referred to as “true toads,” because they share a number of toad-like traits, while “true frogs” are found in the family Ranidae. However, there are a number of other families within the order Anura, all of which are also technically considered to be frogs.
While frogs are known for being aquatic, some species are equally comfortable on land, only returning to the water to breed. Some are also capable of extended periods of hibernation, which can be useful in severe climates, and frogs also produce a range of vocalizations which have made these creatures quite famous. They vary in size radically, from monsters up to a foot (30 centimeters) in length to tiny frogs which are less than half an inch (10 millimeters) in length. Like other amphibians, frogs absorb much of their oxygen through their skins, and they hunt an assortment of insects, worms, and other small animals.
Some frogs have developed special adaptations, including glands of poison which are designed to deter predators. Poisonous frogs are especially common in the tropical rainforest, and they are renowned for their vibrant colors, which are designed to serve as a silent warning. Several cultures have a tradition of using such frogs as a source of poison for hunting.
In many regions of the world, people keep frogs and toads as pets, using specially designed aquariums to provide the right habitat for their pets. Because frogs come from a diverse range of environments, it is a good idea to read up on a frog species carefully before keeping it as a pet, to ensure that it gets the habitat and diet it needs.
2008 was declared the “Year of the Frog” by many conservation organizations, out of a desire to increase awareness about frog conservation issues. Since 1989, frogs worldwide have been on the decline, and in addition to being a sad loss of biodiversity, this could also be a sign of serious environmental problems, as frogs are very vulnerable to things like pollution and habitat disruption.