Have you ever seen pictures of large, seemingly innocent animals having a feast with tiny innocent frogs? How can they eat frogs? Are they not worried about being poisoned or about the fact that there is another animal that could potentially eat them? As it turns out, there are many animals who eat frogs and toads.
Due to their small size, widespread population, and diverse habitats, frogs are an easy target for many predators. These amphibians are preyed upon at all stages of their life: eggs, tadpoles, froglets, and adult frogs. Among mammals, minks, otters, raccoons, and weasels are their common predators. Birds ranging from hawks, kites, and owls to jays and crows are all known to feed on frogs. Moreover, alligators, lizards, turtles, snakes, salamanders, newts, and tuataras eat frogs. Lastly, small insects like leeches and dragonflies feed on the younger ones of these amphibians.
There are many different types of animals that might eat frogs. These include larger animals such as storks, birds of prey, crows, gulls, ducks, terns, herons, pine martens, and polecats. Smaller animals that eat frogs include stoats, weasels, and snakes. Large numbers of frogs die when they are run over by cars.
You may love frogs, but there are a lot of animals out there that eat the slimy little things. Frogs are often shown as almost pure with their warty skin and long sticky tongues. However, they offer a lot of food for other animals, and they have plenty of predators of their own to try and stay away from.
In this article, we will talk about all animals that are known to prey on frogs.
Mammals That Eat Frogs
Among the mammals, only the small-to-medium-sized ones include frogs in their diet. Following are all the mammals that are significant frog predators.
- Minks (Mustelidae)
- Otters (Mustelidae)
- Weasels (Mustelidae)
- Raccoons (Procyon lotor)
- Skunks (Mephitidae)
- Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
- Opossums (Didelphidae)
- Cranes (Gruidae)
- Jays (Corvidae)
- Kites (Accipitridae)
- Owls (Strigiformes)
- Crows (Corvus)
- Hawks (Accipitridae)
- Snakes (Serpentes)
- Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum)
- Lizards (Squamata)
- Turtles (Testudines)
- Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
- Newts (Pleurodelinae)
- Dragonflies and their larvae (Anisoptera)
- Leeches (Hirudinea)
Belonging to the Mustelids’ family, the minks are medium-sized carnivore mammals whose glossy fur is extensively used in the clothing industry. There are three species of these dark-colored mammals in the world, and one of them has recently gone extinct:
- American Mink (Neovison vison)
- European Mink (Mustela lutreola)
- Sea Mink (Neovison macrodon) – extinct
Being semi-aquatic mammals, minks have a diverse diet consisting of both terrestrial and aquatic animals, such as rodents, chipmunks, muskrats, rabbits, and snakes, fish, waterfowl, and frogs.
Otters are a group of Mustelids that comprise the subfamily of Lutrinae. They have 13 different recognized species, and all of them are either marine, aquatic, or semi-aquatic. Out of all these species, the Northern Otters (Lontra canadensis) are found abundantly throughout North America.
All otters have a staple diet of fish and occasionally feed on crabs, frogs, and crayfish as supplements. They also consume sea urchins and clams.
Belonging to the same family as the minks and otters, weasels are the smallest carnivorous mammals globally. While these little guys might be small, they’re surprisingly active when hunting for food. There are 13 recognized weasel species in the world, out of which you can find the following in North America:
- Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis)
- Short-tailed Weasel or Stoat (Mustela erminea)
- Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata)
Mice and voles are make up a large portion of the weasel’s diet. However, they can also eat frogs, rats, and several species of small birds.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor)
Endemic to North America, the raccoons are the largest Procyonidae family members, the family of small-to-medium-sized, mostly omnivore animals. The main identifying features of these animals are their face mask and ringed tail.
Like the other procyonids, raccoons are also omnivores with varied diets, including nuts, berries, fruits, rodents, insects, frogs, crayfish, and eggs.
Belonging to the same family as the stink badgers, the skunks are mammals found all over North and South Americas. These medium-sized mammals are popular for a foul-smelling spray they release from their anal scent glands as a defense mechanism against their predators.
Being omnivorous, the skunks have a diverse diet that often changes with the changing seasons. Insects and their larvae, grubs, earthworms, rodents, salamanders, frogs, moles, lizards, snakes, small-to-medium-sized birds, and their eggs are all part of their diet.
Other than these, they’re also known to feed on fungi, grasses, berries, nuts, fruits, and leaves.
Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
Ocelots are a nocturnal species of wild cats that are endemic to the North, Central, and South Americas. These cats have a medium-sized body with black streaks and spots on their upper parts, a white neck, and undersides.
Like the other feline family members, ocelots are territorial, solitary, and can both climb and swim efficiently.
They’re carnivores and usually feed on terrestrial animals like rabbits, iguanas, opossum, armadillos, mice, rats, and frogs and fish.
Belonging to the order of Didelphimorphia, the opossums are a group of marsupials consisting of over 100 species. These marsupials belong to the Americas and are quite widespread within their range.
Despite their large population worldwide, only one opossum species can be found in the United States: the Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana).
All opossum species are omnivores, consuming a large diet of both plant-based and animal-based food. Small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and their eggs, fish, carrion, and small insects like crickets and beetles constitute their animal-based diet.
These marsupials only feed on plants between the months of late summer and early winter. Raspberries, acorns, beechnuts, and apples are some of their favorites.
Birds That Eat Frogs
Although no bird species feed on frogs exclusively, these amphibians are a part of many birds’ diet, including several raptors and corvids.
Let’s learn more about the birds that feed on frogs:
The cranes’ family consists of large birds that have long necks and legs and appear similar to the herons (although the two birds are unrelated). There are a total number of 15 extant crane species in the world that are distributed on every continent except South America and Antarctica.
Being omnivores, cranes are opportunistic feeders that tend to change their diet according to both the seasons and their own nutritional needs. They can feed on fish, rats, mice, toads, frogs, salamanders, insects, berries, and grains.
The Jays are a group of medium-sized passerine birds that belong to the Corvid family, which homes crows and ravens. There are about 40 recognized species of these birds globally, and all of them are known for their colorful appearance and noisiness. Some of the common American Jay species are:
- Brown Jays (Cyanocorax morio)
- Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
- Turquoise Jays (Cyanolyca turcosa)
- Green Jays (Cyanocorax ynca)
Like the rest of the Corvids, the jays also have a diverse diet that includes mice, frogs, insects, earthworms, birds, eggs, grains, seeds, and fruits.
The term “kite” is used to describe several members of the raptor family. These birds vary greatly in terms of their size and wingspan.
They’re carnivores just like other prey birds and mainly feed on insects and all kinds of small vertebrates, including frogs, nesting birds, and lizards. Some of the common frog-eating kite species are as follows:
- Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus)
- Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)
- Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)
- Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
The owls have a large family of nocturnal birds of prey that consists of over 200 recognized species.
Out of all the raptors, these birds have the most distinguished appearance with their large heads, binocular vision, and feathers adapted for silent flying.
Most owl species prey only on small mammals, birds, and insects; although some specifically hunt fish.
The most common frog predator owl species are:
- Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
- Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
- Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
- Western Screech Owl (Megascops kennicottii)
- Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)
Crows are medium-sized black-colored birds that belong to the Corvus genus. These birds are known for their widespread population and scavenging nature.
Being opportunistic omnivores, they will feed on anything they can find, including insects, rodents, amphibians, small reptiles and mammals, grains, and fruits.
Belonging to the same family as the kites, hawks are a group of diurnal birds of prey divided into two different groups. The birds otherwise called “buzzards” are also referred to as “hawks” in the Americas.
Small animals like mice, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, lizards, snakes, and some small birds constitute the hawks’ diet. Some of the North American Hawk species that commonly feed on frogs are:
- White-tailed Hawk (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)
- Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
- Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
- Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
Reptiles and Amphibians That Eat Frogs
Among the reptiles and amphibians, frogs are food to many predators, including snakes, alligators, lizards, and some specific species of turtles, salamanders, and tuatara.
Below, we will take a look at these predators:
Snakes are a group of carnivorous reptiles that have elongated, limbless bodies covered with scales. Over 3,900 recognized species of these reptiles on Earth can be found on all the continents.
Because snakes are toothless creatures, they possess jaws that can open much wider than their body; this allows them to swallow their food whole.
The most common prey of snakes are chipmunks, frogs, mice, gophers, eggs, and other rodents. Some snake species feed exclusively on insects and earthworms, while other, larger species can even prey on monkeys, pigs, and deer.
Belonging to the order of Crocodilia, the alligators are reptiles that appear slightly like the crocodiles but have a shorter, more rounded snout as well as a darker body color than the latter.
Although several alligator species initially, most of them have gone extinct today, with only two extant species remaining: the American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) and the Chinese Alligators (Alligator sinensis).
While the young alligators feed on small prey such as fish, crustaceans, snails, worms, and insects, the adults take on larger prey like turtles, gars, deer, muskrats, other reptiles, and amphibians.
Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum)
Belonging to the mole salamanders group, the Tiger Salamanders are among the largest terrestrial salamander species in North America.
These amphibians are named after the characteristic markings all over their body, which can vary in colors (brown, green, and yellow). Their tail is quite long in comparison to the rest of their body.
The tiger salamanders’ primary diet consists of snails, slugs, frogs, worms, and other small insects. However, in some cases, the adults are known to turn into cannibals as well.
The lizards are a large family of squamate reptiles that consists of geckos, iguanas, chameleons, and several other lizard subfamilies. Over 6,000 distinguished lizard species in the world can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
Although the lizards’ diet varies according to their species, a majority of these reptiles are predatory in nature and primarily feed on small insects and invertebrates.
Turtles are reptiles characterized by their shell (either bony or cartilaginous) that acts as a protective shield for them. There are over 360 recognized turtle species in the world, out of which some are critically endangered.
All turtle species have varied diets. Some are carnivores, some omnivores, and the remaining are herbivores. Moreover, many species are carnivores in their adolescence but grow up to be omnivores. Following are the turtles that feed on frogs:
- Box Turtles (Terrapene)
- Snapping Turtles (Chelydridae)
- Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta)
- Slider Turtles (Trachemys)
Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
Tuataras are reptiles belonging to the Sphenodon genus that are endemic to New Zealand. Although these reptiles appear somewhat like lizards, the two are completely unrelated; tuataras belong to a distinct lineage. While they once had a large family, only a single tuatara species is extant today.
The primary diet of tuataras consists of invertebrates. However, they are also known to eat lizards, chicks, frogs, and birds’ eggs (particularly sea birds). On some occasions, they are also seen eating their own babies.
The Predators of Frog Eggs, Tadpoles, and Froglets
While all the aforementioned species feed on fully-grown frogs, other, smaller creatures prey on the Froglets, tadpoles, and frogs’ eggs. Let’s take a quick look at them:
The newts are semi-aquatic salamanders found in Asia, Europe, North America, and North Africa. These lizard-like amphibians prey on tadpoles, water snails, and shrimps.
Dragonflies and their larvae (Anisoptera)
Dragonflies are flying insects belonging to the order of Odonata that are predatory both at their larval and the adult stage. The larvae of these insects primarily feed on bloodworms, but they also consume tadpoles and small fish species.
On the other hand, the adult dragonflies, being one of the most efficient hunting insects, feed on midges, mosquitoes, moths, damselflies, butterflies, tadpoles, and the eggs of frogs.
Belonging to the phylum of Annelida, the leeches are predatory parasitic worms that are closely related to earthworms. Mostly inhabiting freshwater habitats, these worms feed on snails, froglets and the eggs of frogs, and insect larvae.
Conclusion: What Eats Frogs?
Wow, what a ride! I hope you got as much out of this article as I did writing it. The variety of aquatic, terrestrial, and aerial creatures that make frogs their prey is in fact enormous.
Nevertheless, frogs are a vital link in the ecosystem. In fact, they are critical to the health of ponds, lakes, marshes, and even streams. Some fly around as tadpoles while others crawl on land before returning to the water for adulthood.
Because of widespread habitat loss and pollution, over 200 frog species are threatened or endangered. Frogs also face problems with habitat loss due to the development and expansion of agriculture. And because frogs lay their eggs in water, many suffer due to pesticides and runoff from lawns and fields.