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Frog or Toad?

John W. Pinkerton


The other day, a frog showed up in my bathroom.  Yes, I have my own bathroom.  He was on the rim of the commode.  I saw no reason to disturb him…or her.  If I removed it to the outdoors, I feared the cats would eat it.  I don't know if you've noticed:  cats are not politically correct.

I worked around the frog for several days.  It didn't seem inclined to move on…to find its own destiny.  Finally one morning, he was gone.  I guess he overcame his indecision about his next move.


Of course, he got me to thinking about frogs.

My first impulse was to call it a frog, but it occurred to me that it might be a toad.  I'm woefully ignorant of animal physiology.  I turned to the internet: it turns out that frogs have smooth, shiny, and permeable skin, but toads have rough, dry looking, and leathery skin with warts.  He was so small I really can't say what my beast's skin was like.  I also learned that frogs like semi-aquatic habitats.  Toads, not so much; they only like water when they're breeding.  Well, my beast was on the rim of a commode which, of course, was filled with water.  It wasn't in the water, just near it.  The frog-toad question still remained open.  Frogs, apparently, have narrow bodies and waists; whereas, toads have broader and puffier bodies.  My beast was only the size of a quarter, but I suspect it was closer to the shape of a toad.  Frogs have long hind legs, and toads have short legs.  Again, not much help:  I would have needed a magnifying glass to distinguish its legs from its body.  Frogs have webbed toes but not toads:  same problem.  This fact surprised me: frogs have teeth on their upper jaws; toads must gum it.  Once again, this was of no help.

Perhaps the “Top Ten Reasons You Might Be a Frog” would have been more helpful:

You get mad when you don't find a fly in your soup.

You buy out the supply of wart removal cream in your drugstore constantly.

French chefs are eyeing your legs and appear to be following you.

Bug lamps appear to you as a curse.

On applications, you list 'Pond' as your home address.

Kermit is your idol.

You get mad whenever Miss Piggy makes a pass at Kermit.

Have seen the movie The Fly at least ten times.

You live in fear that someday you will wind up in a child's aquarium.

France is the evil empire to you.

Okay, obviously I'll never know for certain if my visitor was a frog or a toad.  In the big picture, I suppose it doesn't matter, but I got to wondering what kind of frog or toad had visited my bathroom.

Once again I turned to the internet.  I discovered that there are over 6000 species of frogs and toads.  Whoa!  I decided to narrow my search down to frogs and toads of Texas: American Toad, Great Plains Toad, Green Toad, Houston Toad, Cane Toad, Gulf Coast Toad, Red-spotted Toad, Texas Toad, East Texas Toad, Woodhouse's Toad, Barking Frog, Rio Grande Chirping Frog, Spotted Chirping Frog, Cliff Chirping Frog, Greenhouse Frog, Northern Cricket Frog, Canyon Treefrog, Cope's Gray Treefrog, Green Treefrog, Squirrel Treefrog, Gray Treefrog, Spotted Chorus Frog, Spring Peeper, Cajun Chorus Frog, Strecker's Chorus Frog, Mexican Treefrog, Mexican White-lipped Frog, Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad, Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad, Sheep Frog, Crawfish Frog, Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Plains Leopard Frog American Bullfrog, Green Frog, Pig Frog, Pickerel Frog, Southern Leopard Frog, Mexican Burrowing Toad, Couch's Spadefoot, Hurter's Spadefoot, Plains Spadefoot, and Mexican Spadefoot.

Mainly based on its size, I've “concluded” that it could be a Mexican Tree Frog, the smallest frog in Texas.    Once again our border has been breached.

In my search for the truth, I ran across some frog fables and parables:

Frog and Toad

A toad and a frog were sitting on the front stoop criticizing each others looks.  Each thought himself beautiful and the other ugly.

While they were posturing, a girl happened by and was disgusted by both.

"Yeaccchh!!" she screamed, and she stomped on each and ran away.

Parables are supposed to have points to them; in this case, I guess, the lesson is that the perception of beauty is subjective.

One more.

The Ox and the Frog

"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of a pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was big as a mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two."

"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I could easily make myself quite as broad; just you see."

So he blew himself out, and blew himself out, and blew himself out.

"Was he as big as that?" asked he.

"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog.

Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox was as big as that.

"Bigger, Father, bigger," was the reply.

So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew, and swelled and swelled.

And then he said, "I'm sure the Ox is not as big as this."

But at that moment he burst.

The moral is quite apparent in this case: self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.

Enough of parables: let's move on to the idioms involving frogs and toads.  If you know me at all, you know I love idioms:

frog face

a frog in one's throat

big frog in a small pond

biggest frog in the puddle

biggest toad in the puddle

If frogs had wheels, they wouldn't bump their butts.

know no more about something than a frog knows about bedsheets

like herding frogs

finer than frog hair

little frog in a big pond

and boiling frog and boiling frog syndrome

which deals with a problematic situation

Interesting, but not very.  Let's move on to frog jokes.

Old Guy and the Frog

A guy is 72 years old and loves to fish. He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say, "Pick me up."

He looked around and couldn't see anyone.

He thought he was dreaming when he heard the voice say again, "Pick me up."

He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog.

The man said, "Are you talking to me?"

The frog said, "Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up then, kiss me and I'll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. I'll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride!"

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up carefully, and placed it in his front pocket.

The frog said, "What, are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said? I said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride."

He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said, "Nah, at my age I'd rather have a talking frog."

Froggy in a Bank

A frog enters a bank, looking for a loan. He approaches the loan officer, Patty Black, and makes his request known. Taken somewhat aback, she tells him the bank doesn't typically make loans to frogs.

“But please,” exclaims the frog, “I really need this loan.”

“Do you have any collateral?” asks Ms. Black.

“Only this,” he says. With that, the frog pulls from his pocket an object and hands it to Ms. Black. Not knowing what it was, but being too embarrassed to say so, she takes the object to the bank manager and explains about the frog and his request for a loan.

“Sir, I don't even know what this is but it's all he has for collateral,” she tells him.

The manager takes the objects, looks at it for a moment, hands it back and tells her, “Why, it's a nick-knack, Patty Black, give the frog a loan!”

I even looked in the Bible in my efforts to identify my bathroom visitor:

Revelation 16:13

And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.

Oh, well…I guess I'll live without knowing the identity of my frog…or toad…whatever.