Chickens have a much heftier appetite than you may think. A lot of people are surprised at the foods that chickens pluck at, including animals like frogs and toads. Chickens are omnivores and will consume just about anything from fruits and veggies to small amphibians and insects. So even though frogs pose a low health risk to chickens, there are some risks if you’re allowing your flock to feast on them regularly.

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Why Do Chickens Eat Toads and Frogs?

Some hens have awfully spunky personalities. Many of them can’t resist chasing and hunting down small prey. Foraging is a natural behavior for them, and they are experts at it. Chickens eat an array of bugs, rodents, snakes, lizards, and, of course, frogs and toads. If you’re got a pond in your backyard, you’ve likely spotted your chicken chasing down smaller animals from time to time.

Are Frogs and Toads Safe for Chickens to Eat?

Don’t assume that just because food is safe for us to eat, that our pets or farm animals are clear to eat them, too. Depending on where you reside, the chances of your chickens eating a frog and getting I’ll are low. However, several frog and toad species are considered poisonous and could be toxic to chickens.

A frog’s skin contains several harmful toxins to ward off predators. The toxins on a toad are even more concentrated and dangerous than a frog. Even if these toxins don’t cause death, they could make your pets extremely uncomfortable for a while. In more severe cases, frog venom could cause cardiac arrhythmia and seizures.

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Image Credit: Matt Jeppson, Shutterstock

How to Tell Toads and Frogs Apart

Unless you’ve studied them, knowing the difference between a frog and a toad isn’t all that easy. The biggest difference between a frog and a toad is that frogs have longer legs and are much better at jumping compared to toads. Frogs also have smoother and more colorful skin. Toads are duller with lots of bumps on their back. Toads are also slightly chunkier in appearance. Finally, toads tend to live on land instead of in the water.

Can Chickens Eat Tadpoles?

Chickens that spend their days hanging out around a pond might be searching for an army of tadpoles. Tadpoles are safer for chickens to eat than frogs and toads. However, the act of catching them is a bit more dangerous, and you might not want them near a body of water to begin with. Chickens don’t often like entering the water and tend to stay away from larger bodies, so you don’t have to stress too much about them jumping in to look for a snack.

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Image Credit: 14230021, Pixabay

Other Common Backyard Critters that Chickens Eat

Your own yard is a diverse ecosystem that is flourishing with different types of life. Frogs and toads aren’t the only potential animals on a chicken’s dinner menu. Chickens are opportunistic scavengers and love to eat anything high in protein.

Other common things that chickens might eat in the backyard are:
  • Spiders
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Beetles
  • Ants
  • Caterpillars
  • Grubs
  • Ticks
  • Crickets and grasshoppers
  • Wasps
  • Yellow Jackets

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Final Thoughts

While it may not seem normal, your chickens trying to eat frogs and toads is a perfectly common behavior. In the wild, a chicken’s diet consists of whatever they can find for themselves. Eating frogs isn’t the most dangerous behavior for them, but it could still cause them to become ill if they happen to come across a frog or toad species that are more toxic than others. If you notice that this behavior is becoming a problem, do your best to remove the frogs and toads from the area. You may have to install a chicken run or supplement their existing food routine to get the behavior to stop. At the end of the day, what matters most is keeping your flock as safe as possible.

Featured Image Credit: Stephen William Robinson, Shutterstock