Why do frogs and toads call?
Frogs and toads, or Anurans, call for various reasons, including communicating alarm or pain, for species recognition, or to protect their territory. Singing toads and frogs relates to courtship; these vocalizations can indicate location and readiness to mate, or be used to assess potential mates.
The use of vocal communication for defending territory and attracting mates means that it is essential to anurans’ survival. Communication also takes place via touch and body language.
What sounds do frogs and toads make?
Calls of frogs and toads include clicks, croaks, quacks, whistles, and trilling songs, and can travel through air (up to 1 mile [1.6 km]), water, and even through the substrate, allowing them to communicate and find mates over long distances.
Each anuran species’ call is unique, enabling individuals to identify other members of their own species. Since there is no guarantee that interspecies mating would result in viable offspring, being able to locate mates of the same species is crucial for continued survival.
Most anurans are nocturnal, so are mainly heard at night – particularly during the typical spring/summer mating season. They are also more likely to call before, during, or after rain: the ideal time for egg-laying.
Do female frogs and toads sing?
In many species, only males call, since females choose partners on the basis of their songs and how well they are sung.
Increasingly, though, the idea of silent female anurans is being overturned: recent research shows that, though their calls are generally quieter than males’, the females of certain species will vocalize for territorial reasons, when clasped by an unwanted male, and, in some role-reversed cases, even to attract males.
How do frogs and toads sing?
As well as having vocal cords contained in the voicebox (larynx), male anurans also have a vocal sac: an inflatable, sound-resonating throat pouch.
In the case of frogs, the vocal sac is open to the mouth cavity. By inflating the lungs, then shutting the mouth and nose, air from the lungs can be expelled through the larynx, where vibrations cause sounds that are amplified by the elastic membrane of the vocal sac.
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