8 animals that eat frogs {Different predator types in different frog habitats}

Because frogs are highly abundant in numerous environments, they are easy prey for a number of animals; a fact that holds true for green frogs in particular. There are more than 4,500 known frog species, with 90 of them living in the United States alone.

Some common predators of frogs are minks, otters, herons, fish, birds, and snakes, especially for green frogs. On the other hand, predators of rainforest frogs include six-spotted fishing spiders, skunks, blue jays, Eastern newts, large diving beetles, crayfish, red-tailed hawks, and barred owls. For all frog species, humans also pose a significant threat as well.

Tadpoles and frog eggs are common food sources for large marine insects and beetles, while additional predators include turtles, skunks, and opossums. Additionally, frogs are important in ecological studies because they are seen as an indicator species, which means that they act as both prey and hunters and can be vital in detecting pollution issues.

Predators of freshwater/green frogs

Frogs are an integral part of freshwater biome systems. During its lifespan, the frog will go through several changes in its form, starting from its egg stage, transitioning into a free-swimming tadpole, and then reaching its final form as a land-dweller frog. During each of these stages, the frog is vulnerable to attacks from various predators, and this can easily reduce the frog population significantly.

According to research findings from the Animal Diversity Web, for instance, a maximum of 95% of freshwater frogs die when still in the tadpole or egg stage, with the death rate reducing as they become adults.

These predators include:

  1. Snakes and birds

Regardless of the specific frog species, chances are high that it will end up as prey for many reptiles and birds.

Almost 7% of North American birds will consume frogs as a part of their diet, although it is rare to find birds that depend on these amphibians as their main diet source. However, there are some aquatic birds that do not eat frogs at all; these include gulls, swans, and ducks. While a hungry gull can consume almost anything as it is an opportunistic feeder, they will not consider frogs to be a part of the menu.

The most prevalent North American birds that eat frogs include Egrets and Herons, which will eat frogs due to their prevalence in their foraging locations, while you may occasionally find owls and hawks eating frogs although the amphibian is lower on their food list. Instead, they will prefer eating other birds, mammals, and fish. Other than these examples, the Tufted Duck will also consider eating frogs if their preferred food sources of aquatic insects and plants are low in supply.

When eating the frogs, birds will eat them whole if they are sufficiently small in size, although some birds such as Jays will repeatedly peck at the frog until it dies, and then swallow it in smaller pieces or whole.

Additionally, frogs can also become prey for certain snakes, especially water snakes, water moccasins, and garter snakes.

  1. Mammals

Many species of toads and frogs regularly secrete foul skin secretions, so many mammals will actively avoid eating them. However, this avoidance is not true for all mammals, and there are some that are still attracted to the taste and smell of a frog; especially freshwater mammals.

These mammals include raccoons, mink, foxes, otters, opossums, and humans. In some cases, you will find that not all these mammals live close to or at a freshwater biome, but they will occasionally come to pluck some frogs from the bank, alternatively catching them in the water when they are hungry.

  1. Various water creatures

Since afrog breathes through its skin, it must keep it moist enough to facilitate the process. Therefore, they will spend most of their live inside the water, near it, or live on some aquatic plants like water lilies.

Although hiding in the water or near it protects them from some predators based on land, there are additional threats in the water and they still remain vulnerable to these creatures. Many kinds of aquatic turtles and fish are a threat to frogs, tadpoles, and eggs; and the frogs also remain wary of other frogs. Some frog species are carnivorous, and will not hesitate to swallow anything they can eat.

  1. Smaller predator creatures

While some creatures may be too small to eat an adult frog, that does not prevent them from eating tadpoles, frog eggs, and immature froglets that are not strong enough to swim quickly yet.These predators include large water bugs, leeches, diving beetles, dragonflies and dragonfly larvae, and newts.

Many of these predators will consume smaller tadpoles as well. All younger forms of frogs will face predator threats from many larger animals that eat adult frogs, although some of these predators will not see frog eggs and tadpoles as worth hunting.

Rainforest/Wood frog predators

While a rainforest frog may be a colorful and neat-looking animal in appearance, many meat-eating creatures will see them as delicious snakes. They have many predators they need to worry about, ranging from big cats that pounce on them to birds that occasionally swoop and grab them in their talons to eat them later.

  1. Amphibians and reptiles

Although rainforest frogs are amphibians, they should worry about other amphibians as well as reptiles that see them as a food source.

In particular, snakes are a notorious reptile they need to watch out for. Different snakes will eat different animals, with some following a more generalized diet and others following a special diet. In particular, the most common snakes they should watch out for are boas and pythons. Other reptiles such as crocodiles and alligators may pose a threat to the frog since they live near the edge of the water, but snakes are a greater risk because they can climb trees and slither around on the ground.

Additional reptiles like monitor and Iguana lizards, as well as other amphibians like bullfrogs and tiger salamanders are open to eating frogs, although they will go for the smaller-sized frogs rather than the larger ones.

  1. Birds

Aerial predators are an additional risk to the life of frogs, as they can strike with high accuracy and speed, and their excellent eyesight allows them to spot prey from high above the ground. Many birds will also fill their bellies with a range of smaller animals, frogs being among them.

Some examples of birds that eat rainforest or wood frogs include hornbills, hawks, owls, and toucans, with eagles occasionally eating frogs when their usual food sources are scarce.

  1. Tarantulas

It is not surprising that many rainforest frogs will go out of their way to avoid tarantulas, and this is for good reason. Tarantulas are among the largest species of spiders and have efficient hunting strategies: when combining these factors with their natural camouflage, they can easily lure in and kill frogs through their silent and waiting strategy.

Additionally, a tarantula will usually burrow holes in the ground and live there, which may give some reprieve to frogs that live on trees. On the other hand, some arachnids that prefer to live on trees, such as the arboreal tarantula, will pose a major threat to tree-dwelling frogs.

  1. Mammals

Rainforests are ecosystems that harbor many animals, including mammals. Many of these mammals that include anteaters, tapirs, sloths, and monkeys will consume an herbivorous diet, although there are predatory mammals like cats that exist.

In particular, small ocelots will enjoy eating frogs and make them a major part of its diet. However, larger mammals like leopards and jaguars will consume frogs as a snack or supplement to their usual meals when these are unavailable.

Additionally, bats are also a threat to these amphibians, despite their poor eyesight and their flying preferences. When bats go on their hunting sprees during the nighttime hours, they will locate the frogs through the sounds they make, killing and eating them.

Different frog predators and their main diet

Predator group
Predator examples
Preferred frog consumption
Invertebrates
Aquatic beetles, aquatic bugs, spiders, crabs, crayfish, leeches, mosquito larvae
Tadpoles and eggs
Fish
Tuna, goldfish, salmon
Frogs and tadpoles, occasionally eggs
Reptiles
Monitor lizards, various snakes, alligators, crocodiles, turtles
Adult frogs
Birds
Hawks, kites, owls, eagles
Adult Frogs
Mammals
Bats, some primates
Tadpoles and frogs

The human threat to frogs

  1. Harvesting and eating them

While most people will associate frog-eating with French cuisine, many countries also eat frogs in other European countries, Asian countries, as well as the United States. Many of these frogs do not originate from the countries people consume them in, but are instead harvested elsewhere, thanks to the varying frog harvesting regulations around the world.

The largest importers of frogs as food sources are the European Union and the United States, while the biggest exporters are China and Indonesia. The heavy trade that affects between 100 and 400 million frogs annually according to some estimates, impacts the global frog population significantly and changes the ecosystems they originally thrive in.

Since the harvesting process does not account for the frog breeding seasons, this results in many frogs of mating age being killed for food, alongside other creatures. Banning the frog harvesting activities during these mating times will ensure the risk to their populations reduces significantly, as well as placing restrictions on the frog sizes that are harvested and limiting them to very large frogs.

Over-harvesting frogs increases the spread of certain diseases that kill frogs, such as Chytrid Fungus that hardens the frog’s skin and makes it difficult for the animal to breathe, and leads to the near-extinction of certain species. Increasing frog trade leads to the spread of invasive species as well, such as bullfrogs in California. While American bullfrogs are not particularly fond of the west Coast, the actions of people in bringing them to the area and letting them get out resulted in the frogs taking over the area.

  1. Pollution

Since frogs generally spend most of their lives in water, their thin skins are particularly sensitive to the effects of pollution and resulting in their deaths or greater predation rates. Their eggs also do not have much external protection as the shells are very thin.

Some ways to reduce the pollution impacts on frogs are:

  • Increasing the construction and maintenance of sediment traps, especially near waterways and water bodies. This will reduce the disturbance of vegetation cover, which frogs hide in from predators and increase their survival chances.
  • Preventing chemicals from entering waterbodies, such as fertilizers, detergents, petrol, and insecticides. Some chemicals even change their sexual structures, such as the pesticide Atrazine that makes the males produce eggs. Other chemicals damage the frog’s immunity, kill it instantly, or lead to mutations like extra legs and arms. Oil spills are bad news for these animals, and mining minerals cause many problems due to suffocation; these include zinc, iron, copper, cadmium, and aluminum.
  • Avoiding wearing and application of insect repellents or other lotions when you go swimming in water bodies that contain frogs.
  • Preventing garden waste, silt, and garbage from getting into water drains, and reducing water run-off.
  • Creating buffer zones around water bodies by planting vegetation, as these will control erosion rates near the water, prevent silting of the water bodies, and absorb contaminants before they reach the water.

Light pollution is another major problem for frogs, although it is an overlooked issue. Many frog species are nocturnal, and the light from big cities can interfere with their internal workings, making them think it is still daytime even during the night.

  1. Introduction of certain fish species

In efforts to increase the biodiversity of certain water bodies, the populations of frogs suffer from additional predators. These fish species include:

  • Plague minnows: Also referred to as the mosquito fish, the plague minnow was initially introduced in many freshwater bodies to control mosquito breeding, but the efforts were unsuccessful. In the present day, it is now a widespread species and frequently eats tadpoles and frog eggs; so you should avoid introducing them into a garden pond or in the wild, as they interfere directly with the growth of frog populations.
  • Other fish: There are some additional fish species that negatively impact frog populations. These include goldfish, carp, and trout, which eat both tadpoles and native frog eggs. If your garden or nearby dam is prone to floods, avoid stocking these species.
  1. Losing their habitats

Among all the human-induced threats to frog populations, habitat destruction is the worst. There are 3 habitat loss types: habitat degradation, habitat fragmentation, and habitat destruction.

  • Habitat degradation: Involves losing specific attributes of the habitat, such as over-harvesting and wetland pollution, resulting in damage to the ecosystem.
  • Habitat fragmentation: This occurs when the habitat goes through changes that result in its confusion. These include building roads in forests, creating border walls, and building dams to block river flow. The result is fragmenting the frog population into two isolated parts, and results in less diversity as well as making it harder for the animal to find food.
  • Habitat destruction: This involves complete elimination of the habitat, like cutting trees and burning bushes to create plantations. The most common reason for this is agricultural increase, where humans destroy an area to make space for crops. Other ways include logging, mining, and urbanization.

Since the advent of pollution has increasingly become a problem, it is destroying the frog habitats. Different species will use different methods to keep up with these changes, mostly through changing their distribution and their behavioral aspects. However, the case is different for frogs because they happen to be the poorest dispersers among vertebrates that live on land.

This means that they find it very difficult to move away from their preferred habitats, unlike mammals and large birds. Instead, they tend to move gradually across a landscape, which places them at high risk of failing to adapt to shrinkage in their habitats and pollution, and the fact that they cannot move across significant distances to find their preferred areas.

If they fail to find habitats suitable to their breeding and living, they will die.There are various methods humans can use to destroy frog habitats and expose them to both predators and environmental dangers. These include:

  • Collecting bush rocks that frogs use as sheltering places, such as red-crowned toadlets
  • Clearing large tracts of native plants in an area to do agricultural activities or settle
  • Allowing cattle to graze in wetlands or draining them
  • Burning bush patches that frogs regularly use as shelter
  • Reducing the quality and quantity of wildlife corridors. This makes it difficult for frogs to freely move between different areas.

Conclusion

Frogs face a number of threats from both natural predators and humans. Keeping this in mind is important to ensure their survival while taking care of their habitats to avoid adverse changes in their populations.

FAQs

Do all frog species lay their eggs in water?

No, not all of them do. Since frog eggs lack a shell, they will require some form of moisture to prevent them from drying out before hatching. For those that do not lay the eggs in water, they use other strategies like laying them under moist leaves in a rainforestuntil they hatch, while others will have the male carry the eggs in its vocal sac until hatching.

Do snakes eat frogs in rainforests?

Yes, as snakes are the reptile that eats frogs the most. This applies in both temperate and tropical forest habitats.