With over 6000 species of frogs found all over the world, it’s impossible to learn everything in a short blog post. Their appearance, habits, habitats, and abilities all change depending on species and location. They range in size from the tiny gold frog (0.39 inches or 1 centimeter.) to the Goliath frog which is 13.5 inches (30 centimeters) and weighs about 6.6 lbs. One thing is certain though, frogs are interesting creatures that are important parts of the food chain. During the various transformations throughout their life cycle they attract a variety of different predators. This means that frog populations are always at risk of being decimated by hungry critters.
What animals eat frogs?
- Birds: Many kinds of birds who live in and around fresh water eat frogs. Mostly they focus on smaller frogs and tadpoles, however large bullfrogs can still be eaten by bigger birds such as herons. The birds that love to dine on a frog meat include: ducks, geese, swans, gulls, crows, ravens, and hawks.
- Snakes: There are some snakes, such as the garter snake, water moccasins, and other swimming snakes that will eat frogs.
- Fish: Since frogs spend so much time in or near the water, they tend to be safer from land predators, but have to be wary of hungry fish. Bass love frogs. They are often the chosen bait for an angler seeking to catch a bass.
- Turtles: Another aquatic danger comes from aquatic turtles including snapping turtles.
- Other Frogs: Yes, our friendly frogs are carnivores, which means they will eat anything and everything. This includes turning carnivorous and scooping up a fellow frog.
- Small Predators: Many of the animals above might not be interested in frog eggs and tadpoles, as they are too small to make a fulfilling meal. Still there are creatures happy to dine on frogs at these stages. Leeches, dragonflies, dragonfly larvae, newts, and diving beetles will eat frog eggs. Tadpoles are at risk from the larger predators, including bigger frogs.
These are the basic predators of frogs. Of course, we have mentioned that humans often find frogs a fabulous delicacy. But that’s another story. The predators of frogs differ, however, depending on the variety of frog and the location where they live. Read on to learn more.
Types of frogs and their predators
Glass Frogs: There are 60 different types of glass frogs that can be found in in the treetops above the water of the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico, and Central and South America. These small nocturnal frogs are most active from dusk to dawn. Their biggest predators are snakes, animals, and birds. However the biggest threat to them is human. Deforestation threatens their habitat more than predation.
Green Frogs: Green frogs can be found in a wide variety of habitats in North America and Canada. This includes swamps, ponds, lakes, marshes, bogs, and even slow moving rivers and streams. Animals like leeches, dragonfly larvae, various aquatic insects, fish, turtles, and herons will eat green frog eggs and tadpoles. The larger frogs are not safe either. They are tasty treats for a wider variety of animals including: larger frogs, turtles, snakes, wading birds (storks and herons), raccoons, otters, mink, and humans.
Green Tree Frogs: Tree frogs can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There are over 600 species, and like the name implies, many of them actually live in trees. There are some that prefer ponds, lakes, or moist ground cover. Of course, this means that they don’t just face the usual predators. They face dangers from mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish. Most green tree frogs rely on their ability to camouflage themselves to protect from predators. They seem to be successful, as green tree frogs are abundant and the biggest risk to them is the loss of habitat due to deforestation.
Southern Leopard Frogs: These medium-sized frogs can be found in wetland habitats in eastern Virginia, Maryland, and southeastern Pennsylvania. The predators of these spotted creatures include the usual culprit of great blue herons. They also risk being eaten by river otters, grackles, southern water snakes, brown water snakes, northern black snakes, and water moccasins. And of course, a number of creatures love to eat the eggs and tadpoles, including: fish, aquatic insects, salamanders, and fishing spiders.
Wood Frogs: Wood frogs can be found in the United States, particularly in the forests of Alaska and the Northeast, as they have adapted to colder climates. They are actually the only frogs found North of the Arctic Circle. Adults usually live in woodlands. The predators that choose to dine on this delicacy include: a variety of snakes, snapping turtles, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and various birds. The adults lay eggs in vernal pools, where the tadpoles risk predation by beetles, salamanders, wood turtles, and other wood frogs.
Northern Leopard Frogs: This large green to brown frog with spots on its back can be found in a wide range of habitats in Canada and the western United states, although populations are declining. They are not yet considered an endangered species, however. They rely on speed to escape predation, because their skin is actually yummy compared to other frog species which produce distasteful skin secretions (like poison arrow frogs). Snakes, turtles, herons, raccoons, other frogs, and humans often enjoy a meal of Northern Leopard frogs.
The reality is that the life of a frog is not easy. They are an important element to the food chain, supporting the diets of many different creatures, including humans. At every stage of life, whether an egg, a tadpole, or an adult frog, the risk of being eaten by a hungry animal is always high. Some of them have adapted interesting techniques of protecting themselves from predation. Whether that is the camouflage power of the green tree frogs, the speed of the leopard frogs, or the occasional poisonous skin frogs do what they can to protect themselves. However, the danger is real, and they can never really be safe from predation from a wide variety of creatures, even their frog family.