Toad, a small, tailless amphibian. Scientifically, there is no distinction between toads and frogs. Both belong to the same order of the class Amphibia, and are called anurans. However, because of popular usage, zoologists use the term true toads to describe only one family of anurans, the Bufonidae.

ToadsToads have shorter hind legs than frogs, and hop instead of leap.

True toads are found throughout the world, excepting the polar regions, Australia and neighboring islands, and Madagascar. They have shorter hind legs than frogs, and hop instead of leap. Generally, their skin is rougher than that of frogs. Toads vary in length from about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) to more than 9 inches (23 cm).

Glands in the toad's skin secrete a fluid that is poisonous to most of the toad's enemies. Humans are not usually affected by handling toads, but find the secretion of some species irritating to mucous membranes. There is no basis in the belief that toads cause warts. In China, toad skins were used for centuries in the treatment of heart diseases. In modern times, several drugs have been isolated from toad skin secretion. One of these drugs, bufotenine, has a stimulating effect on the heart similar to that of digitalis.

ToadToad skin is rougher than that of frogs.

The breeding habits and life cycle of toads are almost identical to those of other anurans. (S Toads that live in dry regions do not breed until there is sufficient rainfall to form pools. These pools must be large enough to remain until the larvae, or tadpoles, metamorphose and can live on land. If the pools dry up too soon, the tadpoles die. Some kinds of toads lay their eggs singly, others in masses of thousands.

Tadpoles feed on algae and other water vegetation. Adult toads eat insects, spiders, and worms. The toad's long tongue, like the frog's, is fastened toward the front of its mouth, and is darted out swiftly to catch prey. The prey is swallowed whole. Toads feed mostly at night and remain in burrows or moist, shaded spots during the day. In dry regions, toads stay in burrows or bury themselves in the ground during the hottest part of the year, coming out during periods when rain falls.