Are Frogs Amphibians?

It may seem confusing to know if frogs are amphibians or not. They have many similar traits to newts, salamanders, turtles, and other animals you can commonly find in marshes, swamps, and bogs around the world. But a few distinctive features dictate why frogs are amphibians.

Frogs and toads are amphibians because they are cold-blooded vertebrates that have complex life cycles with an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed by a lung-breathing adult stage. 

Let’s have a closer look at what family frogs belong to, why they are classified as amphibians, and what makes toads and frogs different from other animals like salamanders, newts, turtles, and snakes.

What Family do Frogs Belong to?

Frogs and toads belong to the Animal Kingdom, the Phylum of Chordata, the Class of Amphibia, the Clade of Salientia, and the Order of Anura.

ClassificationFrogs
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAmphibia
CladeSalientia
OrderAnura

Frogs are part of the Phylum of Chordate because they possess a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve cord, endostyle or thyroid, and pharyngeal slits.

“Amphibian” is derived from an Ancient Greek term meaning “both kinds of life” describing the fact that these animals can live on land and in water. 

Frogs are part of the Order of Anura because they lose their tail as adults, have long hind legs, shorter forelimbs, large eyes, and an external tympanum. The lack of a tail at the adult stage is one of the main features that differentiates frogs from other amphibians.

Why Are Frogs Amphibians?

Frogs are amphibians because they are cold-blooded, can live on land and in water, breed in water, their larval stage has a tail and gills, their skin is smooth with no scales, and they can breathe through their skin and lungs as adults.

Some of the main characteristics that define amphibians include the following:

It may seem confusing to know why frogs are amphibians, especially when comparing them to other cold-blooded animals like turtles, snakes, crocodiles, and lizards. So let’s dive further into why frogs are amphibians more specifically, and how they are different from salamanders and newts.

Is a Turtle an Amphibian?

Turtles are reptiles like snakes, crocodiles, and lizards so they are not amphibians. Contrary to amphibians, turtles have scaly skin, a long neck, fertilize their eggs internally, do not breed in water, and their hind legs are not long or made for jumping.

CharacteristicFrogsTurtles 
Cold-Blooded (Ectothermic)YesYes
Can Live on LandYesYes
Can Live in WaterYesYes
Larval Stage Has TailYesYes
Skin Has ScalesNoYes
Three-Chambered HeartYesYes
External FertilizationYesNo
Breeds in WaterYesNo
Has No NeckYesNo
Breathes Through Skin And LungsYesNo
Glands to Keep Skin MoistYesNo
Forelimbs Shorter Than Hind LimbsYesNo
Adult Has No TailYesNo

Learn more about the difference between amphibians and turtles in this guide on our blog.

Is a Snake an Amphibian?

Snakes are reptiles like turtles, crocodiles, and lizards so they are not amphibians. Contrary to amphibians, snakes have scaly skin, fertilize their eggs internally, do not breed in water, and they have no legs.

CharacteristicFrogsSnakes 
Cold-Blooded (Ectothermic)YesYes
Can Live on LandYesYes
Skin Has ScalesNoYes
Three-Chambered HeartYesYes
Has No NeckYesYes
External FertilizationYesNo
Can Live in WaterYesNo
Larval Stage Has TailYesNo
Breeds in WaterYesNo
Breathes Through Skin And LungsYesNo
Glands to Keep Skin MoistYesNo
Forelimbs Shorter Than Hind LimbsYesNo
Adult Has No TailYesNo

Snakes are reptiles because they only can breathe through their lungs and have dry scaly skin, whereas frogs and amphibian skin need to stay moist to survive. Snakes do not breed in water, have no forelimbs or hind limbs like frogs, and most snake species cannot live in water.

What Makes Slamanadars Different From Frogs?

Salamanders are different frog frogs because frogs lose their tails at the adult stage of their development, frogs have short fore-limbs and longer hind-limbs made for jumping, frogs have large, bulging eyes with excellent vision and an external tympanum for hearing.

CharacteristicFrogsSalamanders 
Hindlimbs Made For JumpingYesNo
Adult Has No TailYesNo
Bulging EyesYesNo
Excellent VisionYesNo
External TympanumYesNo
External FertilizationYesYes/No
Cold-Blooded (Ectothermic)YesYes
Can Live on LandYesYes
Can Live in WaterYesYes
Larval Stage Has TailYesYes
Breeds in WaterYesYes
Breathes Through Skin And LungsYesYes
Glands to Keep Skin MoistYesYes

Frogs and toads, as well as salamanders and newts, are amphibians because they are cold-blooded, lay eggs in water, can live in water and on land, their larval stages both have a tail, they both breed in water, and prefer habitats with water to live, and they can breathe through their skin and lungs (CTNF).

Learn more about why frogs are classified as Anura in this guide on our blog.

More About What Makes Frogs Amphibians

Frogs and toads are fascinating amphibians. Hopefully, this article made it much clearer as to why frogs are amphibians, not reptiles, and what makes frogs different from turtles, snakes, and salamanders. 

Learn more about frogs in the dedicated guides on our blog:

Common Questions About Amphibians

Why are frogs amphibians? Frogs are amphibians because they are cold-blooded vertebrates that have complex life cycles with an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed by a lung-breathing adult stage. Like all amphibians, frogs also require access to water to live and survive.

Why are frogs amphibians and not reptiles? Two main reasons why frogs are amphibians, not reptiles, is because they have smooth, moist skin, whereas reptiles have rough and scaly skin, and frogs breathe through their lungs and their skin at the adult stage, whereas reptiles can only breathe through their lungs. 

What makes a frog an amphibian? Frogs are amphibians because they are cold-blooded, can live on land and in water, have offspring that lose their tails as adults, reproduce externally by amplexus, breed in water, and can breathe through their skin and lungs as adults.

Why are frogs amphibians and not reptiles?  Frogs are amphibians, not reptiles because they can live on land and in water, have offspring that lose their tails as adults, reproduce externally by amplexus, breed in water, do not have scales, and can breathe through their skin and lungs as adults.

Is a frog an amphibian? Yes, frogs are amphibians because they are cold-blooded vertebrates that have complex life cycles with an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed by a lung-breathing adult stage. 

Are frogs vertebrates or invertebrates? Frogs are vertebrates because they have a backbone. Frog skeletal structures vary depending on the species and are either made for burrowing (toads), jumping and swimming (aquatic frogs), or climbing (tree frogs).

Sources

Phylum – Wikipedia

Laurie J. Vitt, Janalee P. Caldwell, Chapter 17 – Frogs, Editor(s): Laurie J. Vitt, Janalee P. Caldwell, Herpetology (Fourth Edition), Academic Press, 2014, Pages 471-522, ISBN 9780123869197, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-386919-7.00017-4.

Helmer Peter J., Whiteside Douglas P., Amphibian anatomy and physiology, Science Direct, 2005.