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Can Frogs See Colors?

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While the extent to which frogs can see colors has not been determined, they do have some ability to detect different hues in the environment around them. In fact, frogs may even be able to detect color in extremely low light situations where other animals only see shades of gray.

Frog Biology

There are many types of frogs. The order Anura, which includes both frogs and toads, includes around 3,500 species, 80 of which are found in the United States. Frogs are found in both subtropical and temperate areas. There are, for instance, 27 species of frogs native to Florida and 14 in Minnesota. As amphibians, they begin life as tadpoles in the water, then move onto land as they grow into adults. Some frogs hibernate over the winter, while others merely sleep during the day. Depending on species, they can live between 2 and 40 years.

Seeing in Color

Though it's not entirely clear how much color frogs see, they do see some. Their eyes contain both rods and cones, as do human eyes. While rods are responsible for detecting light, cones are sensitive to color variations in the environment. Many species also display sexual dimorphism, which means the males are significantly more colorful than the females. In other species, this use of color is often to attract a mate, which would indicate that the females are capable of noticing the colorful show.

Visual Abilities

Frogs do have difficulty seeing in red light, seeing best in environments where yellow light is predominant. They focus their eyes by moving the lens within the eye rather than changing the shape of the eye itself, as humans and other mammals do, to modulate vision. Because their eyes are so large and are mounted on either side of their head, they have an extremely wide field of vision, meaning they can look around without moving their bodies.

Other Senses

Frogs have a clear inner eyelid, or nictitating membrane, which protects the eye when frogs dive underwater. This dulls their vision, however, so they often rely on sense of smell, which they can use in water. Frogs have good hearing. Though they do not have holes in the sides of their heads, you can tell where the ear is by locating the external covering, called the tympanum, which protects the ear.