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Toad Shedding Skin

Do Frogs Shed Their Skin?

Like other creatures, frogs shed their skin regularly. Many people don’t know why they do this. Some hobbyists think it’s abnormal and irritating, some think they are dying when this activity is going on.

Yes! Frogs shed their skin!

The shedding of frog’s skin is very important to their life. This is because one of the breathing processes of amphibians is through their skin while in water.

Frogs shed their skin to avoid hardening. Their skin needs to be soft for proper breathing. If it’s hardened, it will be more difficult to absorb (diffuse) oxygen through the water. This is why frogs shed their skin regularly.  

About Frogs Shedding Their Skin

The expulsion of a frog’s skin is not a hard process, it is not difficult either, rather they are very easy and regular. Whenever the frog is readying to remove its skin, it changes positions into an up scrunched, crouching position. The frog then creates a tear in the hardened skin.

Next, a frog will stretch so that the former skin comes off. The frog needs a protected setting where the shedding process won’t be disturbed.

Frogs Eat Their Skin

When the skin peels off, you will notice a very unusual and strange scene where the frog starts to consume its skin!

It’s not uncommon to be shocked or dismayed at the sight of this scene. It is all part of the (natural) process. Regular removal of the skin results in frogs losing a lot of nutrients and to recover or replenish this nutrient, the frog feeds on its skin, which is a good source of calcium and other nutrients.

When this shedding pattern is done, its colors will be at their most lively. This is the best moment to take pictures and appreciate the beauty of your frog and also applaud nature for its impact.

Symptoms of Oncoming Sheds

You can’t predict when your frog is about to shed its skin.  There is one obvious sign that it’s about to shed and this is in its body position. Before shedding, a frog will get into a squeezed or crouched position. It will further stretch to pull out the skin. 

Shedding of the skin is natural, that is it is not man-made and it is advised we allow nature to do its job without human interference. The natural process should be allowed to play without intervention.

Allow your frog time to shed their skin without disturbance and also provide an enabling environment – quiet and peaceful.

Frequency of Sheds

Amphibians remove their skin regularly – more often than reptiles. Some frogs shed (or “slough”) every day while others do this only once a week.

Depending on the species, the process of removal or shedding of skin may vary. It could take a few days or several weeks. Regular skin sloughing hinders the skin from hardening and becoming less permeable to oxygen.

It is helpful for frogs to remove their skin regularly as it is hardened skin decreases their ability to absorb oxygen through their skin via water.

African Dwarf Frog Shedding Skin
African Dwarf Frog shedding its skin. Photo by: Matt Reinbold, Flickr

Fungal Disease & Shedding

The peeling of the skin is an elegant, natural phenomenon in frogs. It is normal for them to slough their skin and this natural event can easily be mistaken for a disease.

If you are not knowledgeable to identify skin replacement, you may mistake it for disease. Anurans (frogs and toads) are susceptible to fungal infections, some of which can be identified as white, fuzzy patches or sores on their skin. 

Another reason frogs shed their skin is to rid themselves of disease.

The signs look almost the same but they are not. When a frog sloughs, the skin peels off completely. It is a different case when they are shed in patches. When they shed in patches, it could be a fungal infection.

If you notice this, consider consulting a vet to properly attend and treat the frog. The veterinarian will then diagnose the frog, the cause, and also tell you if it is the normal shedding of skin or if it is something to worry about.

Chytrid Fungus

The amphibian skin is susceptible to Chytrid fungus because it invades the permeability of their skin. This disease causes serious damage to the nervous system, resulting in the unusual behavior of your pet.

Chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, the non-hyphal zoosporic fungus causes chytridiomycosis which is a contagious ailment in amphibians. 

It affects the part of the frog’s skin with keratin pigmentation which, in turn, affects the frog’s ability to diffuse oxygen from water.

The skin of a frog plays a crucial role in its immune system. It functions perfectly as a physical armor against the deadly attacks of microbes and pathogens. It also secretes antimicrobial fluids and encourages a large microbial community made up of communal, pathogenic, and neutral microbes.

Similar to other animals, the outer layer of skin of Anurans (frogs and toads) is regularly – as frequently as daily to a few times per month. However, amphibians shed (and repeatedly eat) the entire outer skin layer in one piece to obtain the lost nutrients.

Temperature & Shedding

Shedding plays a vital part in the preservation of the abundance of cutaneous microbe, this is hypothetically tested. Research shows changes in the amount of farmed cutaneous bacteria on both the dorsal and ventral body surfaces of the Litoria caerulea (Green tree frog) with shedding.

The temperature has a way of affecting the coughing periodicity of frogs. The effects of temperature on shedding periodicity were also observed and studied to find out the ability to shed in controlling and maintaining microbial infection might differ with climatic conditions and season.

Their observation and study were able to show that shedding largely reduces the overall endowment of bacteria, in some cases by as much as 100%. To add, the temperature has a significant effect on shedding intervals, with animals in cooler environments having a greater length of time in between sheds (sloughs) compared to animals residing at held higher temperatures.

There might be some questions in our mind; like what does this whole thing mean? To understand everything, you should know that the spread and control of Bd, a skin disease on amphibians, is mostly affected by the climate on the host.

The shedding or replacing skin periodicity especially when the disease suddenly occurs or when there is an outburst in cold environments or during winter.

Furthermore, there are differences in various species when it comes to the frequent occurrence of sloughing. Lastly, the capability or aptitude of other bacteria to defend or guard themselves against pathogens.

TLDR; Summary “Do Frogs Shed Their Skin?” 

To summarize this whole post, frogs frequently shed their skin and eat it. The purpose of eating the skin is to restore lot nutrients – it contains calcium and other nutrients. The frequency at which a frog sheds depends on a species and environmental conditions. However, it can happen as often as every day or up to a few times each month.

Then there is Chytrid Fungus. It’s detrimental to amphibians and greatly affects their shedding process. Most often, it can be seen when a frog shed’s its skin and it comes off in patches.

Should you happen to find a frog shedding its skin, try to watch from a distance. Allow them to complete their task at hand and enjoy seeing one of nature’s rarities.

Featured photo by: Chewyismycopilot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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