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Is This Frog Harmful or Harmless

A rather interesting, though somewhat unpleasant question came in regarding tree frogs. The question was, what would happen if you ate a tree frog that was in a bag of organic green salad.

“Tree frog” is a very generic term for any frog that lives most of its life in trees. In fact, many tree frogs aren’t tree frogs at all, they are arboreal toads. Others look like tree frogs but don’t spend most of their lives in trees, so they aren’t tree frogs.

Despite all of this, there are a lot of kinds of tree frogs. Some of them are toxic and the toxicity varies from one species to another. Some species of tree frogs aren’t toxic at all. If a person ate one of those that wasn’t toxic, nothing much would happen. If they ate one that was toxic, the results could be unpleasant to deadly. 

Thus, it would depend entirely on what kind of tree frog they ate. The problem is that it isn’t always easy for the average person to tell the difference. Take a look at the frog in the picture. This is one of the deadly ones and it can appear in different colors, including some that aren’t bright.

This frog has alkaloids in its skin that prevent nerves from firing. Even a small amount of this poison can cause a heart attack in a human. This frog is called the Golden Poison Arrow frog, though it isn’t always yellow or golden. Then again, you are very unlikely to find it in a bag of organic green salad, since it is only found in Colombia. As long as your organic green salad didn’t come from Colombia, there is little chance that you’d need to worry about this little frog. Of course, there are still other tree frogs that are toxic.

Incidentally, ‘poison arrow frog’ isn’t a very accurate label as few frogs are actually used to tip poison arrows. In fact, few are used to tip the poison darts used in blow-guns, either.

The best advice, not that I probably need to give it to anyone who is apt to read this, is to not eat tree frogs, whether they are in a bag of organic green salad or not.

  • Did you know that there are small frogs that are so toxic that they can cause a heart attack?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Yes, but I didn’t know that they come from Central and South America

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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7 Comments

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    • I’ve never heard of toads being harmful with the possible exception of the Cane Toad which exudes a chemical that acts as a hallucinogen. However, for that to happen, you have to lick its back. I had a Cane Toad as a pet once and it was fine. (I never licked its back.) You just have to washe your hands with soap and water after touching them. (Something I recommend after handling any reptile or amphibian.)

      • Several toads can be harmful because of the substances they exude from their ‘warts’, though that isn’t true of all toads. Most of those that are harmful are only dangerous for creatures that eat them and off-hand, I don’t recall any that are deadly. The substances exuded usually react with mucous membranes, so it wouldn’t be good to get it in your eyes and it makes them distasteful to predators.

        There are several frogs that can be quite dangerous or even deadly, though.

  1. The frogs actually get their toxicity from the environment. They don’t produce it themselves. If you remove one from their natural habitat, they start to lose their toxicity and will be safe to touch after about 3 weeks. (I’d make it a month just to be sure.) They are commonly sold as pets.

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