Are Frogs Amphibians or Reptiles?

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Published: February 21, 2022
Image Credit Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock.com
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Amphibians and reptiles are commonly confused for one another. After all, they’re quite similar, especially if you don’t know much about these slimy, scaly creatures!

Frogs are amphibians. Other amphibians are newts and salamanders. Alligators, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, and lizards are all reptiles.

In this article, we’ll talk about why frogs are classified as amphibians and the differences between amphibians and reptiles, as well as the similarities.

Are Frogs Amphibians or Reptiles?

baby frog on a leaf
Frogs have mucus-covered skin and go through metamorphosis.

lessysebastian/Shutterstock.com

Frogs are amphibians. They have thin, mucus-covered skin that they can breathe through, lay shell-less, squishy-looking eggs, and often go through a metamorphosis from tadpole to fully-grown frog.

All of these things set them apart from reptiles, like turtles and snakes.

Read on to learn more about the differences and similarities between these animals, and how to tell the groups apart.

Amphibians vs Reptiles: The Difference Between Frogs and Reptiles

Amphibians vs Reptiles 1200x627

A-Z-Animals.com

It can be difficult to know how to tell amphibians and reptiles apart. What is the difference, really?

Here are five differences between amphibians and reptiles to help you identify them easily:

1.     Amphibians have Breathable Skin—Literally!

Amphibians have the unique ability to breathe through their skin. This makes them quite special!

This unique ability comes from their skin, which is thin, porous, and contains many blood vessels near the surface. Amphibians also have mucus glands, which produce mucus to keep their skin moist.

If their skin were to dry out, it wouldn’t be able to filter oxygen, which would be detrimental to these animals.

Although most of them have lungs as well, some of them don’t at all—they breathe solely through their skin.

Reptiles, on the other hand, breathe through their lungs. Their skin is thick and protected by scales.

2.     Amphibians are more Sensitive

As you may imagine, amphibians’ unique skin comes with a downside: it’s very fragile. These animals are especially at risk from predators and polluted environments.

For instance, pollution can be absorbed from a pond and into a frog’s skin. Frogs are also hunted by animals such as:

  • Snakes
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Crayfish
  • Otters
  • Minks
  • Beetles
  • Spiders
  • Newts
  • Skunks
  • Alligators
  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Monkeys
  • Humans

Reptiles are often prey animals too, however they have more protection. From scaly snakes to shelled turtles, their skin is much more protective than that of sensitive amphibians.

3.     Many Amphibians go through Metamorphosis

Think of how a frog begins its life. It comes out of an egg as a tadpole: an aquatic, gilled animal with no legs.

Over time, the frog grows into a fully-formed adult. It will also lose its gills and gain lungs in their place. This is a huge transformation to make in one animal’s lifetime!

Reptiles, on the other hand, emerge from their eggs looking like smaller versions of their adult selves.

4.     Amphibians have Squishy, Transparent Eggs

The way amphibians and reptiles begin their lives is also different. Amphibians lay eggs that are squishy and see-through, revealing the baby animal inside.

Reptile eggs, much like their skin, are built to be more protective. They have a hard outer shell, more like a chicken egg.

Amphibians typically lay their eggs in water, while reptiles lay theirs on land.

5.     Amphibians only Live in Freshwater

While reptiles can live in saltwater, amphibians can only survive in freshwater conditions. This is because of their skin, which is harmed by salt.

Handling a frog with your bare hands is enough to hurt or even kill them because we have natural salts on our skin. As you can imagine, this means there’s no way a frog will survive being submerged in saltwater for very long!

How are Amphibians and Reptiles Alike?

Common Garden Skink
Reptiles and amphibians are groups together as herpetofauna.

I Wayan Sumatika/Shutterstock.com

When grouped together, amphibians and reptiles are referred to as herpetofauna. As we discussed above, they are quite similar animals, which is why they get confused so often!

But what exactly do these creatures have in common? Here are four similarities:

1.     Amphibians and Reptiles have Backbones

All of these creatures are vertebrates, meaning that they have backbones.

Frog backbones do not connect to a tail, though ancient frogs may have had tails many years ago! Scientists believe this because of the urostyle, or spikey bone, at the end of their spine.

While they do have backbones, frogs don’t have ribs—this makes their internal organs extremely delicate. You should never pick a frog up from its stomach.

2.     Both Creatures Hatch from Eggs

As we discussed above, reptiles and amphibians have very different eggs. However, they are both egg-laying animals who do not give birth to live babies.

Frogs typically lay their eggs in freshwater to prevent them from drying out. This is super important because the eggs don’t have shells!

3.     They’re Found on Almost Every Continent

Amphibians and reptiles are common all around the world—the only continent they don’t live on is Antarctica!

Frogs are no exception to this, from the tree frogs found in the South American rainforests to the desert rain frog of South Africa.

4.     Amphibians and Reptiles are Cold Blooded

Cold-blooded animals cannot regulate their own body temperature in the way that warm-blooded animals, like humans, can. Instead, they rely on their environment to keep them warm.

This is why you’ll often see reptiles and amphibians basking in the sun. It’s also why some frog species will dig deep into the soil when it’s too hot in the summer, or float at the bottom of a pond to hibernate when it’s below freezing outside.

They seek out the ideal surroundings so that their temperature doesn’t rise too high or drop too low.

5.     Both can be Toxic

Not every amphibian or reptile is toxic, but many are!

Amphibians are typically poisonous, while reptiles are venomous. Poisonous animals are dangerous to eat, while venomous animals are dangerous when they bite or sting.

Frogs, for instance, are often poisonous. Poison Dart Frogs are super tiny, but a two-inch frog has enough venom to kill ten grown men!

Snakes, on the other hand, are usually venomous. They inject venom when they bite, but aren’t dangerous to touch or for predators to consume (so long as they can kill them while avoiding those pointy fangs!).

amphibian
Though its transparent skin is a bit spooky, the bare-hearted glass frog looks a lot like Kermit the Frog!
Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

I'm an animal writer of four years with a primary focus on educational pet content. I want our furry, feathery, and scaley friends to receive the best care possible! In my free time, I'm usually outdoors gardening or spending time with my nine rescue pets.

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