Frogs are well-known for their amazing leaping abilities, with some species able to jump up to 6.5m (21 feet), without even the need to warm up. This incredibly propulsion is all down to their anatomy, which allows them to build up the force to fly through the air.
Frogs achieve this impressive feat largely by using their legs as set of springs, building up tension in their muscles and tendons and releasing it suddenly.
Understanding a frog’s jumping ability isn’t just interesting in order to find out more about how their bodies function, but could have significant implications for the advancement of technology. Being able to replicate the frog’s joints and their ability to build up force could be applicable to a wide range of machinery and even bionic limbs.
Also read: Frog Skeletons: Do They Have Backbones?
How frogs prepare for a jump
One of the distinctive features of a frog are it’s large back legs. These legs are how it propels itself forwards during its jump. In order to build up tension in the muscles and tendons of the it’s legs the frog crouches down and tenses its muscles, pulling on the tendons and loading them with energy.
As its legs tense the tendons begin to pull the joints straight, as well as the iliosacral joint. This joint is a bend in the frog’s back, which allows it to give greater accuracy to its jump.
|Leg Muscle Power
|Frogs with stronger leg muscles can generate more force during jumps, resulting in higher and farther leaps.
|Longer frog legs act as levers, allowing frogs to cover more distance with each jump.
|Larger frogs have greater mass, which contributes to increased momentum and improved jumping ability.
|High humidity helps maintain the elasticity of a frog’s skin, enhancing its jumping performance.
|Smooth surfaces offer better grip and enable frogs to push off more effectively during jumps.
Elastic properties of frog tendons
All of this initial work is in order to build up tension in the frogs tendons and muscles. The frog’s legs act similar to an elastic band. As the elastic band is stretched it builds up energy. Once released this energy bursts forth, propelling the elastic band across the room. Similar occurs inside the frog, as the muscles contract and tendons stretch, straightening out the frogs legs. As the legs straighten the energy is released, sending it flying.
How far can a frog jump?
When it comes comes to how far a frog can jump, there is a great deal of variability between species. In general, frogs use their impressive jumping abilities to avoid becoming dinner. A quick dive to the left could be the difference between a long and happy life and a very short one. However, though most species will be able to jump, some may have more need of it than others.
Species that are well camouflaged, for example, or smaller species, may rely less on their jumping abilities because they are more likely to escape a predator by staying still. Aquatic species, who spend little time at the surface may have no need to jump at all. And, of course toads are well-known for preferring to walk over jumping.
Yet when it comes to the enthusiastic jumpers, studies have found a big determiner of how far they can go is their size. Larger frogs simply have bigger muscles, allowing them to jump further. However, a well-fed frog might find that though it has the muscles, it’s simply too fat to move itself all that far. It’s therefore a trade off between weight and size. As many frog species have much larger females than males, it can therefore be assumed that females as usually the best jumpers.
Frog species with impressive jumping abilities
The bull frog is perhaps the species with the most recorded jumps. This is in part because they are often used in competitions, to see whose frog can jump the furthest.
While not the furthest overall jump, the South African sharp-nosed frog has been recorded as having the furthest jump relative to its size. In one leap it was able to jump more than 90 times its body length, this is compared to the average frog jump, which is 10 to 20 times its body length.
|Average Jump Height
|Average Jump Distance
|50 – 75 cm (20 – 30 inches)
|90 – 180cm (3 – 6 feet)
|Red-Eyed Tree Frog
|13 – 25 cm (5 – 10 inches)
|30 – 60 cm (1 – 2 feet)
|Northern Leopard Frog
|20 – 30 cm (8 – 12 inches)
|45 – 90 cm (1.5 – 3 feet)
|2.5 – 7.5 cm (1 – 3 inches)
|15 – 30 cm (0.5 – 1 feet)
|15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inches)
|30 – 45 cm (1 – 1.5 feet)
How high can frogs jump?
While many frogs can jump incredible distances horizontally, they don’t usually put much effort into the height of their jump. This is because, when trying to escape a predator, the distance is much more important than the height. Most frogs can therefore only jump a couple of times higher than their height, although some frogs, like tree frogs can jump up to 1m (3 feet) in height.
As with jumping forward, jumping up is dependant largely on their size and weight, with larger frogs usually able to jump higher. However, morphology is another important aspect, as most frogs aren’t designed to put much energy into their upward trajectory, instead wanting to fire themselves forward and out of danger.
Frog legs are made up of a femur, the bone closest to the body, then the tibiofibula and finally the tarsal. These bones are significantly elongated, in order to give the frog’s back legs the strength to propel it into the air.
- How far can a frog jump?
Some of the furthest recorded jumps are those of bull frogs, who are often used in jumping contests. One of these record jumps came to 6.5m.
- Do all frog species jump the same way?
No, different species jump different distances, and some don’t really jump at all.
- Can frogs jump backward?
No their legs are only able to propel them forwards.
- Are there any limitations to a frog’s jumping ability?
There are many limitations to a frog’s jumping ability, as they can only jump so far in one go.
- How does a frog land after a jump?
How a frog lands depends on the species, some species aren’t able to keep their balance as they land, and therefore simply tumble over, others are more graceful.
Frogs are able to jump so incredibly far because they use their muscles and tendons as springs, first coiling them and then releasing that energy. This amazing ability helps to keep them safe by allowing them to dart out of the way of danger.
The frog’s amazing ability to jump up to 90 times its own body length, is an incredibly feat, and one which could help up build on and improve some of out modern technologies.
The ability to leap is something that has allowed frogs to become so successful throughout the natural work. While we may see it merely as entertaining, to them it is important for their very survival.