So your chicken just ate a frog or a toad…what does that mean, and should you be concerned?
Generally, it’s not an issue unless your chicken suffocates or eats a poison frog.
Chickens are omnivores. They eat a variety of foods, including both plant and animal matter.
While chickens primarily consume grains, seeds, insects, and worms, you’d be surprised that they may also eat small animals like frogs if given the opportunity.
So, to answer your questions about your chicken eating a frog, we discuss specifics in the sections below!
Why Do Chickens Eat Frogs?
Chickens are opportunistic eaters.
They naturally chase and eat smaller creatures that will fit in their mouths, including toads, frogs, mice, small rats, snakes, and most insect species.
This does not indicate that your chickens are malnourished, hungry, or lacking some key nutrients.
It just means there was something small and moving that they could catch and fit in their greedy beaks.
Is It Okay If a Chicken Eats a Frog?
Your chicken should be fine as long as the frog isn’t poisonous and doesn’t get stuck in the trachea and suffocate the chicken.
Frogs are high in protein, each having at least 16 grams of protein.
They also have at least the following nutrients:
- 18 mg calcium
- 1.5 mg iron
- 20 mg magnesium
- 147 mg phosphorus
- 285 mg potassium
- 58 mg sodium
I say “at least” because these figures are for two frog legs.
No studies have been completed on the whole frog that your chicken will likely eat in one big bite.
So long as your chicken doesn’t suffocate or get poisoned, the frog has a great nutrition profile.
With all of this said, limiting the number of vulnerable wildlife species that your chickens eat is best to keep native species diverse and your local ecosystem in balance.
Identifying Common Frog and Toad Species in North America
Here are some quick identifiers to help you decipher what toad or frog your chicken ate or attempted to eat.
The Most Common Frog Species
Only one type of poisonous frog is native to the United States.
The Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)
Pickerel Frogs have a distinctive pattern with square or rectangular dark spots on their dorsum, often resembling a checkerboard.
The skin on their dorsum is relatively smooth, but they may have some small warts.
The hind legs often have bright orange or yellow coloration. Bright colors on an amphibian or reptile are generally good indicators of venom or poison, which is true for the Pickerel Frog.
It is the only native poisonous frog in the US. Still, the poison is only mildly irritating to our skin and should not cause serious effects from picking one up.
Their toxin is much more serious for cats, dogs, and chickens, which may cause collapse, convulsions, or death.
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
It is one of the largest frogs in North America, recognized by its distinctive deep call.
The male’s call is a deep, resonant, bass-like “jug-o-rum” or “rumm” sound, often heard during the late spring and summer breeding season.
These frogs are olive-green with yellow throats and are native to the eastern US, Canada, and parts of Mexico.
Adult American Bullfrogs are large, with females reaching lengths of 3.5 to 6 inches.
Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
Typically green or brown with a dorsolateral ridge along the back, it has a resonant call.
The call is often described as a “glunk” or a loose banjo string.
They’re native to eastern North America with two subspecies: the northern green frog and the bronze frog.
Adult Green Frogs can reach lengths of 2 to 4 inches. Females are generally larger than males.
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
This small tree frog is known for its high-pitched peeping call, which is heard during the spring.
They live in marshy, swampy lowlands and prefer to be on the ground rather than trees.
These frogs are brown, which helps them blend in with decaying leaf litter.
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)
They are identified by a dark mask across the eyes and a range that extends into the Arctic Circle.
Wood frogs are well-suited to colder climates, especially forested areas and lowland forests.
In the winter, they freeze and thaw, making them a popular study for scientists for their physiological responses.
Wood Frogs are typically brown or tan with a distinctive dark mask-like marking across their eyes.
Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
These little guys are small, with a dark stripe through the eye and a distinctive three-part call.
They typically have a light tan to brown or grayish background color with three dark stripes running down their back.
Lighter lines often border these stripes.
They are primarily nocturnal and are known for their chorusing behavior during the breeding season. Chorus frogs are skilled jumpers and climbers.
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
Gray tree frogs are variable in color, ranging from gray to green, and are known for their adhesive toe pads.
Most are 1.5 to 2 inches long and are found in various habitats, including deciduous forests, wetlands, and gardens.
They are arboreal, spending much of their time in trees and shrubs.
Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
This species is similar to the Gray Treefrog but is distinguished by its shorter call duration.
It is a series of short, musical trills resembling the sound of a bird’s chirp. Their calls are used during the breeding season.
Breeding typically occurs in spring, and they lay their eggs in shallow water or vegetation overhanging water.
The Most Common Toad Species
Toads are much more of a concern for cats and dogs than frogs are.
But when it comes to chickens and toads, they do not seem to be harmed by toads.
This study even showed that a chicken who ate 45 toads—more than enough to kill a cat or a dog— was completely unfazed.
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
They are widespread and adaptable, found in various habitats, and known for their warty skin and distinctive coloration.
These toads have a mottled appearance with shades of brown, gray, olive, or reddish-brown.
They often have dark spots and scars on their dorsal surface.
The American Toad is widely distributed across North America, from Canada to the southeastern United States.
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
These toads are similar in appearance to the American Toad but tend to have more pronounced cranial crests and lack a distinct light mid-dorsal stripe.
Adult Fowler’s Toads are moderate in size, ranging from about 2 to 4 inches.
They have prominent golden or copper-colored eyes with horizontally elliptical pupils.
Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
This toad is recognized by a spade-like projection on its hind feet, used for burrowing, and it is often found in sandy or loose soils.
It is a relatively small burrowing toad species native to eastern North America.
Eastern Spadefoot Toads typically have a light tan or grayish-brown coloration, often with dark markings or scars on their dorsum.
They may exhibit a pattern resembling a marbled appearance.
The male’s call is a short, nasal, cat-like meow or whining sound.
The call is distinct but may not be heard as frequently as the calls of some other amphibians.
What Do I Do If My Chicken Ate a Poisonous Frog?
If your chicken eats a poisonous frog, you may be able to take it to the vet, though I’ll admit this is likely a futile effort.
Few veterinarians have the knowledge or the time to help a poisoned chicken.
You may want to cull the bird humanely if the chicken seems to suffer.
The most practical and realistic option you have is to wait and see.
Most likely, your chicken will be fine. If not, do not consume the chicken.
Dispose of the body in a way that will not let your other chickens (or your other pets) eat the carcass.
My Chicken Ate a Frog: Before You Go…
Most likely, your chicken will be fine if it ate a frog.
So long as the frog was swallowed without causing any choking and isn’t poisonous or venomous, your chicken will show no adverse effects.
It is completely natural for chickens to hunt and eat small creatures within their free-range space, and frogs are no exception.