Or Not

In today’s world many misconceptions have been perpetuated—becoming modern day “facts”—when, in reality, myths and hearsay have taken over. Sorry to burst your bubble, but in this weekly column, Ripley’s puts those delusions to the test, turning your world upside down, because you can’t always…Believe It!

Today: Does touching a toad cause warts? 

We’ve all heard the saying, sometimes from an overzealous parent and sometimes from a person who simply thinks amphibians are gross: “Don’t touch that toad! It’ll give you warts!” The truth of the matter? It definitely won’t. However, because of their natural and protective accouterment, it’s probably still a good idea to let sleeping toads lie.

Why Do We Think Toads Cause Warts?

No one really knows exactly where this rumor came from, probably because it’s been around for a long time. Baby boomers and millennials alike have pretty much all been told as children they were going to get warts if they tried to handle toads.


Still, it seems like a case of misplaced human logic. Toads have bumps on their backs, the bumps look kind of similar to warts, and warts can be contagious. Therefore, people go around thinking human warts and toad bumps are the same things, and that the latter will cause the former.

Frogs seem to have been put in the same boat, mostly because many people can’t tell the two apart even though they have a number of distinctions between them, such as:

  1. Frogs usually live in water while toads live on land, albeit near water.
  2. Frogs have teeth and toads don’t.
  3. Frogs are longer than toads.
  4. Frogs are smooth while toads are the ones with the wart-like bumps.

Toads Will Not Give You Warts

If you were told toads could give you warts when you were a kid, you can now revel in the fact that this isn’t actually true. There are many different types of warts, around fifty or so, but none of them are caused by toads or frogs. They are instead caused by the human papillomavirus (or HPV), which can result in the multiplication of cells on the outside of your skin, creating a bump. Warts aren’t dangerous, treating them usually isn’t a problem, and in no way are they caused by amphibians.

hpv wart

Toad Bumps Probably Still Aren’t Good For You

However, this isn’t an endorsement to run outside and start picking up hopping creatures. The bumps that distinguish a toad from a frog and made everyone believe these creatures could cause warts are actually often glands. The glands on certain toads can secrete toxins meant to protect the toad and to keep animals in the wild from eating them. These toxins can also burn human skin in some cases.

toad bumps

So, next time you see a bunch of kids handling a toad, you can teach them the facts after reminding them it’s still probably a good idea to put it down.

By Julia Tilford, contributor for Ripleys.com