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Is a Frog a Reptile or Amphibian? (What’s the Difference?)

A frog is not a reptile, but an amphibian. It needs water to survive and lay eggs in the water, and it doesn’t have scaly skin as reptiles do. 

Many people might struggle to find differences between amphibians and reptiles. One of the key traits of amphibians is that they’re able to live in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, while reptiles rarely have this trait.

While some reptiles might live in aquatic habitats, all amphibians need water to some degree to live normally.

Is a Frog a Reptile or Amphibian

Why Frogs are Amphibians and not Reptiles

In short, these are the main reasons why frogs are considered amphibians and not reptiles:

  • They live in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats
  • They don’t have scaly skin as reptiles do
  • Reptiles don’t need water to survive
  • Frogs undergo metamorphosis after hatching
  • Frog eggs are jelly-like

Each of these features is typical for amphibians and they separate frogs from being reptiles.

AmphibiansReptiles
HabitatAlways live near waterCan live in dry climates too
SkinHave smooth or bumpy skin that cannot be shedHave scaly skin that they can sometimes shed
Access to waterNeed access to bodies of water to surviveOnly need water to drink (can be obtained from foods)
HatchingMay change after being born (metamorphosis)Can grow, but don’t change body structure
EggsUsually jelly eggs, laid in waterUsually leathery eggs, laid on land

1. They Need Water to Live

The main difference between amphibians and reptiles is that amphibians need access to water to survive. 

Frogs need water to survive to be able to breathe through their skin. It will keep their skin moist, which allows the frog to take in oxygen from its surroundings.

If the frog’s skin gets too dry, it will not be able to breathe properly, so it needs to enter the water from time to time.

Also, frogs need water to hatch and lay their eggs. Usually, they will lay their eggs inside a water body where they will hatch for some time.

These will submerge to the bottom of the water body and attach to the surrounding vegetation which is meant to keep the eggs safe.

All in all, amphibians like frogs need to have daily access to water, or else they would not be able to survive.

Some reptiles still live near water, but they don’t have the same relationship to it as amphibians.

2. Reptiles Have Scaly Skin

Another reason why frogs are not reptiles is that they don’t have scaly skin. Frogs have sensitive and thin skins that they need to keep protected, as they use their skin for breathing.

The skin of a frog is porous, which allows the water to enter the body and oxygen as well, which enables the frog to breathe. So it needs to keep its skin protected because it is quite sensitive.

Reptiles, on the other hand, have scaly skin. These scales make the skin thicker and stronger, which allows the reptiles to survive in the heat and it enables reptiles to live in harsher habitats, too.

Related Article: Why Do Frogs Croak at Night?

3. Not All Reptiles Need Access to Water

While some reptiles might live in or near water sources such as lizards, snakes, crocodiles, or turtles, the majority of them live in drier habitats.

Those reptiles that live in water need a source of water to live, but many reptiles live in different habitats, too.

For example, some snakes live in deserts and other dry habitats, for example, rattlesnakes that live in deserts and drier habitats. They are better adapted to drier conditions.

On the contrary, all amphibians will need access to water to survive. This is because they need water to be able to breathe in oxygen, allowing them to survive.

Some amphibians will also lay eggs inside the water and occasionally, dip into the water and get out of it quickly.

Read Up About Reptiles Here:

4. Frogs Undergo Metamorphosis

Frogs undergo metamorphosis, which is a clear sign that they are amphibians and not reptiles.

On the whole, a frog goes through five stages in its lifetime:

  1. Egg
  2. Tadpole
  3. Froglet
  4. Young frog
  5. Adult frog

That’s a heck of a lot of change for just one creature!

Compare that to snakes, for example, which are reptiles, as they don’t undergo nearly as many changes in their lifetimes. They are born in the same body as they continue to live in for the rest of their lives, only that they grow.

Another key difference here is that many reptiles also shed their skin, which enables them to grow. Even turtles follow this behavior as they grow.

Once they have outgrown their shell, it will begin to shed away its scales, the so-called scutes. This will enable the shell to grow with the turtle.

5. Frog Eggs Don’t Have External Protection

Frogs (and most other amphibians) lay jelly-like eggs that don’t have the same protection as reptile eggs. Frog eggs are much more vulnerable than reptile eggs because they don’t have the same outer protection.

When reptiles lay eggs, the eggs will have an outer protective shell that aims to keep the eggs safe, such as a brittle or leathery shell.

This protection will stay on the eggs until they are hatched, so reptiles will sometimes hide their eggs to keep them away from predators, although the coating should be enough to keep them safe.

If you were to take a look at a frog egg, you would probably be able to see through it because it doesn’t have an outer shell to protect it.

To counter this slight disadvantage, frogs lay eggs in positions that would be unattainable for most predators, such as deep underwater. There, the eggs will latch onto surrounding vegetation, which would make the eggs near impossible to steal away.

Conclusion

The frog is not a reptile, but it is an amphibian. While it might be easy for you to confuse the frog for being a reptile, many differences and features will help you distinguish between the two. Hopefully, you now know why a frog is not a reptile.

Some of the most common reasons why frogs are amphibians are that they need access to water to survive, they don’t have scaly skin, and they undergo metamorphosis as they age. There are also many differences in the eggs of frogs and reptiles and their behavior when it comes to hatching.

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