To mark World Frog Day 2020 on Friday 20th March we launched a short quiz all about the history, taxonomy and culture around frogs.

Hundreds of people have already done the quiz and our set-up means it is entirely anonymous – but we can see the responses. So here’s an explanation to the answers and how the scores are looking. The quiz is still live if you want to do it before reading the answers below. No cheating!

The average score was 5.9 out of 10, with no one scoring lower than 3 or higher than 9. That’s right: surprisingly, no one got full marks! 

See the answers below!

1. The supposed magical powers of frogs often feature in European folklore. Which of the following questionable powers is mentioned in the literature?

  1. If you found a frog in the pantry, you'd have a good harvest next year.
  2. Frogspawn, when mixed with toad tongues, could "cure" blonde women of their freckles.
  3. Witches could be deterred if you hopped around a pond three times whilst croaking like a frog.
  4. Your Wi-Fi reception would improve if a frog hopped across your path on a Monday.

This one was tricky. Most respondents plumped for A, which was our invention and the correct answer is in fact B. In Goethe’s “Faust”, published in 1832, Mephistopheles offers this rather unusual advice to a woman asking him how to avoid freckles in summer. Interestingly, four people thought that frogs can improve Wi-Fi reception – which, to be fair, we’re not sure has ever been scientifically tested.

2. "Frog" has many meanings, aside from the familiar amphibian. Which of these is NOT a correct use of the word "frog"?

  1. The central indentation on the top surface of a brick.
  2. The end part of a violin bow.
  3. An early prototype of the laminator.
  4. A device for holding flowers in place in a vase.

All of these are actual meanings of the word frog except the laminator (C). Just over half of respondents got this right.

3. What is happening in this photograph?

  1. Two male frogs are fighting over a female frog.
  2. The red-coloured frog is teaching the other one to hop.
  3. The frog on top is attacking the other frog for entering its territory.
  4. A male frog and a female frog are preparing to reproduce.

The answer is (D). The photo shows a male common frog on top of a female, in a grasp known as “amplexus”. This is what frogs do shortly before the eggs are laid. The way that amplexus happens varies a great deal between frog species. In the common frog the male and female can be coupled like this for around a week before the spawn is laid. 97% of respondents got this one right.

4. Why was the African clawed frog kept in hospitals around the world in the middle of the last century?

  1. For pregnancy testing: the frogs could indicate if a woman was pregnant.
  2. For safety: it was believed the frogs could warn of earthquakes.
  3. For entertainment: the frogs were kept in large tanks, for patients to watch as they recuperated.
  4. For good luck: patients would drop a coin in the frogs' tank believing it would bring good fortune.

Another question that most people got right: the answer was A. It was standard practice to inject African clawed frogs with a woman’s urine to check whether she was pregnant – if so, the frog would produce eggs. The test was replaced with chemical methods from the 1960s.

5. What is amazing about wood frogs found in Alasaka, USA?

  1. They can survive being frozen.
  2. They survive on a diet of tree bark.
  3. They make a nest from hailstones.
  4. They live for over 50 years.

The answer is A, and an impressive 87% of people got this right. This wood frog has incredible freeze tolerance. It has been known to cope with temperatures of minus 16C and then be perfectly fine after thawing out. Special chemicals in their bodies allow them to do this by preventing ice crystals from forming in their cells – most animals simply cannot survive freezing.

6. How many species of frog are native to the United Kingdom?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Four

A slightly controversial one! The correct answer is two (B), chosen by 36% of respondents. Those two species are the pool frog and common frog. Some people with a scientific background suggested that “frog” should be taken to mean all species referred to as “frog” or “toad”, hence the answer would be four. Without getting into the detail, this is because the word “frog” is open to some interpretation as to which species it covers when you look across the globe. In the UK, however, by convention it only refers to species in a particular family (Ranidae), of which there are two. Our quiz was designed in the context of UK species and everyday terminology, and it is pretty standard – even among frog biologists – to differentiate between “frogs” and “toads”; indeed the common names use those terms. So, there is an argument for D, and this debate shows the value of being clear about scientific terms - but we’re sticking with B!

7. Which of these statements about common frog tadpoles is correct?

  1. They sometimes stay in the pond over winter.
  2. They grow their front legs before their back legs.
  3. They stay close to their parents.
  4. They only feed at night.

Just over half of respondents got this right – the tadpoles sometimes overwinter in ponds (A). This can happen if there’s been a very cool spring and summer, if the pond is shaded, if there is a high density of tadpoles, or if there’s little food in the pond.

8. What is this frog doing?

  1. Blowing bubbles to confuse predators.
  2. Suffering from a skin disease that causes large blisters.
  3. Calling to attract a female.
  4. Whistling a jaunty tune.

 This is a pool frog, Britain’s rarest amphibian. It’s a male and he’s calling to attract a female (C), using “vocal sacs” at the edges of his mouth. These are inflatable skin flaps that create a loud “quacking” sound. Almost everyone got this right.

9. In a typical British garden pond, one might find 20 female frogs laying spawn at this time of year. In total, roughly how many tadpoles might you expect to hatch from the spawn?

  1. 200
  2. 1,000
  3. 5,000
  4. 40,000

Another tricky one. Common frogs typically lay around 2,000 eggs - though it varies a lot. So 20 times 2,000 equals 40,000 – the answer was D, which was chosen by around a fifth of people. Common frogs can therefore generate huge numbers of tadpoles, though most of them will perish in the pond – often because they are eaten by other animals – and only a tiny fraction will eventually make it through to adulthood.

10. Which of the following statements about adult frogs is correct?

  1. They can only see shades of grey, not colour.
  2. They breathe through their nostrils, not their mouths.
  3. They have five toes on their front feet.
  4. They eat a mainly plant-based diet.

 If you watch a frog closely, you’ll notice the throat moving in and out repeatedly as the frog breathes. Air is being pumped in and out through the nostrils, rather than the mouth, so the answer is B. In fact, the answer could be slightly more complicated, as frogs can exchange gases across the skin too. As for the other responses: adult frogs can see colour, they have four toes on their front feet (five on the hind feet), and with very few exceptions they eat animal prey.

If you’ve enjoyed the quiz, please do check out the rest of our website for ideas on how you can help frogs, and consider supporting our work.