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Do Frogs Have Ears? Importance & Structure Explained

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

Burmeister Leaf Frog
Image Credit: PetlinDmitry, Shutterstock

During your regular walk or jog, you might have noticed that frogs move out of your way and run off into the grass when you get close to them. Sometimes they do this without actually seeing you approach them. How can these tiny creatures hear you without any visible ears?

Well, frogs have inner and middle ears and can hear quite well. Most amphibians can hear efficiently in the air, underground, and even underwater. Read the article below to learn more about this unique skill of frogs and other amphibians.

frog divider hepper

Do Frogs Have Ears?

You’ve probably noticed that frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians don’t have the typical outer ears we are used to seeing, but that doesn’t mean they lack ears.

Frogs have inner and middle ears, which serve the same purpose only without the outer structures. Of course, these tiny creatures need to be able to hear to be able to survive in the wild, and their hearing is actually excellent! The structure of frog ears also varies from one species to another, with certain species, such as those in the Ranidae family, that have tympanic ears—we’ll explain this more in detail below.

albino pacman frog
Image Credit: yusuf kurnia, Shutterstock

Why Are Ears Important for Frogs?

  • Communication
  • Responding to mating calls
  • Hearing territorial and distress calls
  • Hearing predators or nearby danger
  • Locating prey

Communication is key even in a frog’s life, as with all other living beings. Being able to hear allows frogs to communicate with and call each other. In most cases, males frequently call out for females in an attempt to find a mate. They may also make territorial calls, and distress calls that other frogs need to hear to understand what’s happening around them.

Of course, besides the ability to communicate and hear each other, frogs rely on their hearing to spot any potential predators. This is particularly useful because of their reduced close-up vision.

Green Frog Lithobates clamitans on a rock
Image Credit: surender kr, Shutterstock

The Structure of Frogs’ Ears

As we’ve already mentioned, frogs have eardrums and an inner ear. They may lack an outer structure, but they have a tympanum, a large external membrane separating the frog’s inner ear from the outside. This membrane is located directly behind the frog’s eyes, and while it doesn’t process sound waves, it effectively transmits them to the inner parts of the ear. The frog’s eardrum is connected to the lungs. This allows the frog to make loud sounds without hurting their eardrums.

The size of the tympanum influences the frequency of the male frog’s call. The tympanum also protects the inner ear from water entering and other foreign objects. The frog’s eardrum is quite similar to a human’s eardrum, vibrating like a snare drum.

golden matella frog
Image Credit: Swaroop Pixs, Shutterstock

Frogs That Can Hear Without Ears

A certain frog called Odorrana tormota was the first known species discovered with a unique ability—communicating by ultrasound! There’s a theory that these frogs developed this unique ability while residing in their natural habitat in the Anhui province in China. The human noise was so loud that it made communicating between these frogs impossible, so they had to develop a new form of communication. Unlike most other species, this frog has a recessed tympanic membrane. They are morphologically adapted for emitting and receiving ultrasound. Because of their recessed eardrum, the middle ear bone is shorter than on other frogs. This allows the shorter middle ear bone to receive higher frequencies.

frog divider hepper

Final Thoughts

Yes, frogs have ears! While difficult to see, frogs actually have ears right behind their eyes. They rely on their hearing to find their way around nature, find food, communicate with each other, and escape danger. Some frogs have even developed the ability to communicate with ultrasound.

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Featured Image Credit: PetlinDmitry, Shutterstock

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