Do Frogs Have Ears?

There are over 5,000 known frog species and these animals make up around 88% of existing amphibian species. They are unmatched in their ability and speed to catch prey with their soft tongue and specialized saliva.

Is this because of their eyesight or hearing abilities? Do frogs have ears? If you’ve looked closely at a frog, you’ve probably noticed the location where their ears should be is rather unusual. Read on to find out if frogs have ears and how they are able to hear for survival, mating, and hunting.

Key takeaways

  • Frogs have middle and inner ears, and the visible circle on their heads is called a tympanum
  • Frogs can also pick up vibrations with their mouths, skin, and lungs
  • Frogs use sound vibrations to find food, hide from predators, and locate potential mates

Do frogs have ears?

While it may not look like a typical outer ear like humans or rabbits, frogs do have ears. They have inner ears and eardrums. In place of their outer ears, frogs have what is called a tympanum.

It’s an external hearing structure similar to an eardrum that is the circle you see behind their eyes. The tympanum is an oval-shaped membrane made up of a type of dry skin and surrounded by a ring of cartilage.

The size of a frog’s tympanum and the distance between them depend on the wavelength and frequency of the specific species’ male call. For some species, the size of the tympanum can help you determine the sex of the frog.

For example, in green frogs, mink frogs, and carpenter frogs, the males have tympana twice the size of their eyes and the female tympana is about the size of their eyes.

frog floating in water
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

How do frogs hear sounds?

Frog ears pick up sound in a similar way to human ears. The tympanum vibrates when it picks up sound waves and transports the vibrations to the middle ear. The middle ear amplifies the sounds and sends them to the inner ear, where hair cells “convert” the vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain.

Frogs also use more than just their ears to pick up sound waves. Many species can hone in on sound vibrations with their skin, lungs, and mouths. They have a special adaptation where the eardrum is connected to their lungs. This allows frogs to make very loud sounds without hurting their eardrums. In fact, the vibrating lungs are as sensitive to hearing as their eardrums.

Can frogs hear with their mouth?

Yes, they can. Some frog species have only an inner ear structure so they rely heavily on vibrations to interpret sounds. For example, sooglossid frogs such as the Gardiner’s Seychelles frog, hear with their mouths instead of using a middle ear to amplify sound waves. Scientists used to believe these frogs were deaf but recent studies show they can hear their own calls and differentiate other sounds in their environment.

frog side view
Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

How good are frogs hearing?

Frogs have a very sensitive, advanced hearing system that prioritizes specific sounds. They can pick up frequencies that humans and other animals can’t. Many frog species are also able to tune their ears to pick up certain sounds and vibrations while tuning out background noise.

Using their ears, mouths, lungs, and skins, frogs pick up various sound waves and vibrations so they always know what is happening around them. Depending on how heavy a vibration or loud a sound is, frogs can easily turn their head to locate exactly where the vibration or sound is coming from.

How do frogs use their ears?

frog under lilypads
Image by veverkolog from Pixabay

Frogs use their ears to hide from predators, find food, and locate potential mates. Their hearing ability helps them socialize and amplify their calls to attract potential mates they hear nearby. Frogs can differentiate between frogs of their own species and other species by their unique calls and croaks.

The sound vibrations they pick up also help them stay balanced and determine how far they need to jump, especially when escaping predators. Frogs can also easily identify if another frog is hopping nearby or they are picking up sounds and vibrations of a snake slithering towards them.

Conclusion

Although frogs don’t have the best eyesight or visible outer ear structures, their hearing abilities are crucial to their survival. Their sensitive hearing system allows them to pick up sounds and vibrations from their environment using their ears, mouths, lungs, and skin.

Frogs can easily differentiate sounds of predators and sounds of frogs from their own species or other species. This helps them find food, locate mates, and hide from predators.