Frogs and toads are the most diverse and widespread of the three amphibian orders. Unlike the other amphibians (salamanders, newts and caecilians), adult frogs and toads have no tails, but they do have many adaptations to jumping, such as long hind legs, elongated ankle bones and a short vertebral column. Some frogs can jump over 20 times their own body length; that is like a human jumping 30m.
There are over 5000 frog species in the world. Each one has a unique call, and some frog calls can be heard a mile away. Frogs don’t need to drink water as they absorb it through their skin, and many frogs contain mild toxins, but some, such as the poison dart frogs, are deadly.
The importance of frogs in the natural world cannot be underestimated and throughout their life’s they pay a key role in the health of our natural environment.
Frogs are critically important within the food chain as both predator and prey. The tadpoles feed on algae, helping to regulate algal blooms, reducing the chances of algal contamination, and keeping our waterways clean. They are also excellent pest controllers, competing with mosquito larvae for food sources and eating millions upon millions of larvae and adult mosquitos that can potentially transmit diseases including Dengue fever, Malaria, West Nile fever and Zika.
Tadpoles and adult frogs are also a large food source for a huge number of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles. In parts of the world where we have lost amphibian species, we immediately see a negative impact on the natural environment, with a decline in other species reliant on frogs and tadpoles for food and algae growths clogging up the waterways.
Frogs need suitable land and freshwater habitats in order to survive. They have highly permeable skin that can easily absorb bacteria, chemicals and other toxins. These traits make them susceptible to changes in the natural environment and great indicators of the environment's health, and because they live on both land and in the water, they are a good indicator of the health of these two different environments within the same region.
The frog’s natural behaviour makes them a key species and one of the most important members of the natural community to ensure the continued health of the forests and waterways in which they live. The disappearance of frogs disturbs an intricate food web with cascading effects felt throughout an entire ecosystem.
Frogs have existed for nearly 300 million years, unless we act quickly, frogs and other amphibian species will continue to disappear, resulting in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans.
Frogs really are amazing animals
Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
Amphibian populations are faced with an array of environmental problems, including pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.
The deadly fungal disease chytridiomycosis has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions, over the past 50 years.
The disease, which eats away at the skin of amphibians, has completely wiped out some species, while causing more sporadic deaths among other species. The deadly disease is present in more than 60 countries—the worst affected parts of the world are Australia, Central America and South America.
The unprecedented number of declines places chytrid fungus among the most damaging of invasive species worldwide.
Research suggests that globalisation and wildlife trade are the main causes of this global pandemic and are enabling the spread of disease to continue.
More than 40 frog species in Australia had declined due to the fungal disease during the past 30 years, including seven species that had become extinct. Scientists predict climate change, habitat destruction and disease could drive more than half of all Europe's frogs, toads and newts to extinction within 40 years.
This rapid disappearance of amphibian populations in recent decades is undoubtedly the most tragic loss of biodiversity we have ever witnessed and is one of the most serious environmental issues of our time.
To find out how you can help frogs visit ….
Save the Frogs
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Did you also know that frogs are amazing parents? Click below for this incredible David Attenborough video of a Bull Frog dad protecting his tadpoles