Amphibians: Different Types, Definition, Photos, and More

Updated: October 28, 2022
© Vaclav Sebek/
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The official class of amphibians is Amphibia. Amphibians are vertebrates that require water to survive, are cold-blooded, and spend time both on land and in water. Though other animals only live on land or in the water, amphibians have the unique ability to thrive equally in both. Amphibians cover over 6,000 different species across the globe, but about 90% are frogs.

The 7 Amphibians Characteristics – Listed

Amphibians, like any animal group, have unique traits that are unique to their classification. If you aren’t sure if the animal is an amphibian, check out this list of amphibians characteristics.

  • External egg fertilization. When it comes to reproduction, amphibians don’t require mating before they release clear eggs with a jelly-like texture. Instead, their eggs are fertilized after. During metamorphosis, amphibians develop fair beyond this state.
  • Grows 4 legs as an adult. While there are a few exceptions, the majority of amphibians have four legs. Scientists believe that their evolution from the lobe-finned fish is likely why they still require a wet environment.
  • Cold-blooded. Like reptiles and fish, the amphibian is cold-blooded, which means that it matches its internal temperature to the temperatures around it. In doing so, these animals prevent their environment from damaging their body. Find out all the differences that separate amphibians vs. reptiles here!
  • Carnivorous appetite. The average frog or salamander may not indulge in large game, but every amphibian is a carnivore. Anything that they can swallow will become their dinner if it is small enough. Some species of toads will even eat mice.
  • Primitive lungs. Due to the evolution that occurs with every amphibian during metamorphosis, their lungs change as well. They must function as gills while the animal is still underwater, but they allow the animal to breathe through the skin directly as adults.
  • Lives on water and land. When amphibians are born, they will start their life in the water. However, their natural evolution leads them to live primarily on land. Whether in water or on land, these animals must have a moist environment.
  • Vertebrates. Every single amphibian, regardless of its small beginnings, has a backbone. This backbone begins as cartilage, changing as the rest of the organs go through a metamorphosis as well.

Amphibians also do not have any scales, unlike the closely-related reptiles.

Amphibian Exceptions

Like any animal class, there are a few amphibians that don’t quite fit the mold. For instance, though many amphibians develop four legs to walk around on land, there are a few that don’t – caecilians, sirens, and amphiumas.

Any caecilian species have more than this simple exception. Along with their lack of legs, these amphibians also have no underwater stage in their life and will release live young during reproduction, rather than expel unfertilized eggs. They can be viviparous, growing their young inside eggs in the body (like pregnancy).

Different Types of Amphibians

There are three types of amphibians – anura, apoda, and urodela.

  • Anura: Also called Salientia, this group primarily includes toads and frogs, making them one of the most significant orders of the class.
  • Apoda: As the least familiar of orders, this group of amphibians primarily covers caecilians, which live in the ground and streams.
  • Urodela: These amphibians include newts and salamanders with tails and a long yet thin body. They also have fewer bones in the skull.

Types of Amphibians

A African Bullfrog
African Bullfrog

The African bullfrog is one of only three species of frog that have “teeth.”

A African Clawed Frog
African Clawed Frog

African clawed frogs were used as pregnancy testers from the 1930s to the early 1960s.

A African Tree Toad
African Tree Toad

Found in tropical moist lowland forests!

A American Toad
American Toad

They secrete a milky poisonous liquid that can make many animals sick.

A Argentine Horned Frog
Argentine Horned Frog

Natively found in South America!

A Bullfrog

Has loud cow-like calls!

A Burrowing Frog
Burrowing Frog

Found close to marshes, streams and lakes!

A Caecilian

Some species' babies use their hooked or scraper-like teeth to peel off and eat their mother's skin

A Common Frog
Common Frog

Found throughout the European continent!

A Darwin’s Frog
Darwin’s Frog

Camouflages itself as a dead leaf!

A Desert Rain Frog
Desert Rain Frog

The desert rain frog doesn't hop

A Edible Frog
Edible Frog

Are known to guard the muddy banks!

A Fire Salamander
Fire Salamander

Its name comes from the fact that people once believed it was born in fire

A Fire-Bellied Toad
Fire-Bellied Toad

Found across mainland Europe and Asia!

A Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

A Giant Salamander
Giant Salamander

Cryptobranchus giant salamanders breathe mostly through their skin.

A Glass Frog
Glass Frog

You can see their internal organs.

A Goliath Frog
Goliath Frog

Does not have a vocal sac.

A Gray Tree Frog
Gray Tree Frog

This frog can "freeze" itself by making glycerol that becomes glucose, which acts like antifreeze and stops its heartbeat and breathing!

A Green Frog
Green Frog

Green frogs will eat any animal that they can fit in their mouth.

A Green Tree Frog
Green Tree Frog

Green tree frogs breathe through their skin

A Holy Cross Frog
Holy Cross Frog

The holy cross frog has a cross-shaped colored pattern on its back.

A Leopard Frog
Leopard Frog

They can jump up to three feet

A Mantella Frog
Mantella Frog

Some of the smallest and most brightly colored frogs in the world

A Marine Toad
Marine Toad

Produces a toxin used in arrow darts!

A Marsh Frog
Marsh Frog

Has bright green skin!

A Monte Iberia Eleuth
Monte Iberia Eleuth

The smallest frog in the Northern Hemisphere!

A Mudpuppy

Mudpuppies never leave their larval stage. This is called neoteny.

A Natterjack

Can lay up to 7500 eggs

A Newt

Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!

A Oak Toad
Oak Toad

The toad doesn't hop.

A Olm

Inhabits dark underwater caves

A Oregon Spotted Frog
Oregon Spotted Frog

Oregon spotted frogs are the most endangered frogs in Canada!

A Poison Dart Frog
Poison Dart Frog

Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!

A Pool Frog
Pool Frog

The rarest amphibian in the UK!

A Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Despite their spectacular coloration, red-eyed tree frogs aren’t poisonous and can be kept as pets.

A Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

A Scrotum Frog
Scrotum Frog

The frog's ears are underdeveloped, and if it hears it probably does so through its lungs.

A Sehuencas Water Frog
Sehuencas Water Frog

Thought extinct in the wild from 2009 to 2019

A Spadefoot Toad
Spadefoot Toad

They spend most of their time underground!

A Striped Rocket Frog
Striped Rocket Frog

Long powerful hind legs!

A Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander

Found across the North American wetlands!

A Tree Frog
Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

A Turtle Frog
Turtle Frog

A turtle frog can eat more than 400 termites in a single meal.

A Wood Frog
Wood Frog

The wood frog lives the furthest north of any other North American amphibian including in the Arctic Circle.

A Wyoming Toad
Wyoming Toad

Releases poison from neck glands for defense!

List of Amphibians

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are amphibians?

Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that start their life in water before sprouting legs and walking on land. They have no scales, and they are carnivores. During reproduction, they release eggs that are fertilized outside of the body.

What animals are amphibians?

Most amphibians are frogs. However, this classification also includes toads, newts, salamanders, and related animals.

What is the largest amphibian in the world?

The Chinese giant salamander is bigger than any known amphibian worldwide. Though five different species are covered under this name, the largest one was found in the 1920s, measuring 5.9 feet long.

What is the smallest amphibian?

The microhylid frog is the smallest amphibian. Found in New Guinea, it only is 7.7 mm in length, and it was recently discovered in 2012.

What are the 7 main characteristics of amphibians?

Amphibians have a backbone, are cold-blooded, need a moist place to live, can breathe air through their skin, externally fertilize their eggs, eat meat, and grow legs when they mature.

What are the different types of amphibians?

There are three main types of amphibians – anura, apoda, and urodela.

Are turtles amphibians?

No. Turtles are reptiles.

What are the differences between reptiles and amphibians?

While both of these animal classes are cold-blooded vertebrates, only amphibians can live part of their life in the water and part of it on land. Reptiles have a scaly skin, while amphibians have smooth skin. They even breathe differently – reptiles have lungs, while amphibians breathe through their skin.

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