How Do Frogs Drink?

Amphibians boast a wide range of physical traits and characteristics, many of which allow them to perform bodily functions in unique ways. Frogs often sit in water but never appear to drink from these water bodies. This has led amphibian enthusiasts and animal lovers to wonder if frogs need to consume water and how they may drink.

Frogs consume water through their skin using a process known as cutaneous absorption. They can absorb water from various locations including ponds, puddles, soil, or the air. Frogs require access to fresh and clean water to develop from birth, perform vital bodily functions, and prevent dehydration. 

Although some frog species are more water-dependant than others, all frogs need ample water to remain happy and healthy as they age. They use various natural traits to drink water a wide variety of habitats. Join us as we discuss how frogs drink, interact with moisture in their environment, and attain hydration levels necessary for continued survival.

Do Frogs Drink Water?

Like all living things, frogs must consume water in order to survive. Frogs can drink through their skin and require access to unpolluted freshwater bodies in order to reproduce regardless of the climate in which they live.

Frogs’ skin is incredibly absorbent and vulnerable to even slight changes in their habitats’ humidity levels, temperature, and moisture levels. Their inherent bodily features and physical traits mean that frogs can easily become dehydrated with insufficient access to water, and dehydration in amphibians can be extremely dangerous.

However, their permeable skin also makes it relatively straightforward for frogs to source water from unexpected places. The habitat may differ depending on the frog species type, typically including terrestrial, arboreal, aquatic, or a mixture between types such as semi-aquatic.

Aquatic frogs generally require more water than other types of frog, but all frogs require damp or wet areas to remain healthy as they age. All frogs reproduce in wet, damp, or humid locations such as ponds, puddles, and in rare extreme cases, soil.

How Do Frogs Drink Water?

Much like other amphibians, frogs consume water through a process referred to as cutaneous absorption. Water molecules are absorbed through the skin through this process, where they can then be used within the body to support bodily functions and support hydration.

The process is only applicable since frogs have such permeable and sensitive skin, capable of allowing substances through the skin’s membraneous tissue. That is why it is so important for frogs to avoid polluted, contaminated water sources. Polluants can easily be absorbed into their bodies and kill them.

Frogs also have drinking patches, areas on the belly and underside of the thighs which are far more susceptible to moisture absorption. Frogs often use this area when they need to consume more water, such as in drier weather conditions. They apply the drinking patch by pressing their bodies down into the available water or moisture source. 

What Sources do Frogs Drink From?

Frogs can drink from a variety of places that contain liquid freshwater including puddles, ponds, lakes, and streams. Frogs can also absorb water in gaseous state (water vapour) from the air, soil, or mud around them.

The water source from which a frog drinks primarily depends on the frog species, their habitat and environmental conditions. Even a relatively small water body such as a ditch or pond can provide enough water for their needs.

However, the water source will typically rely on availabilities within the habitat. Frogs can absorb water from direct and indirect sources, including the following:

Frog Drinking MethodSourcesCutaneous Absorption Method
Direct – LiquidRain, streams, ponds, puddles, dew dropletsSkin or drinking patch
Indirect – GaseousAtmospheric humidity, moist soil, damp leaf litterSkin

Direct Liquid Water Sources

Consuming water from primary freshwater bodies is the most common and efficient method of drinking for frogs. Frogs may spend time in any shallow and gentle water body such as permanent ponds or streams, as these water bodies typically provide clean and moving water. But, not all frogs return to water bodies to drink. 

Green Frog in a Marsh-min
A Frog I Found Drinking Water in a Marsh

Many frog species use temporary water bodies such as puddles and vernal pools. Depending on the time of day and the weather conditions, frogs can also consume water molecules by sitting in the rain and slowly absorbing the fallen droplets or sitting on dew-covered grass and plants. 

Indirect Gaseous Water Sources

When permanent or temporary water sources are not available, frogs have to be creative with their drinking methods (CTNF). These conditions are relatively common for frog species living in desert regions where water is more scarce.

There may still be plenty of moisture in the air if the region is humid. These conditions are particularly common in tropical regions, which experience high humidity levels throughout the year. Frogs in these locations benefit from such climates, as they are most active at night when temperatures are lower and the atmosphere’s humidity levels are higher.

Some frog species, such as terrestrial frogs, may cover their bodies in moist soil or damp piles of natural debris when thirsty, as they can absorb moisture from these areas. This method is more common during the day when temperatures are higher, and it may be less efficient than access to direct water sources.

Why Do Frogs Need To Drink Water?

Frogs do not need a water source to live in, but they need daily access to moist or wet environments to remain healthy. Below are some of the most important reasons why frogs require water.

Development From Birth

While frogs can make do with indirect water sources for drinking, freshwater bodies are vital for breeding and development for most species. All tadpoles are fully aquatic, demanding direct access to clean water to ensure successful growth over time. Dehydrated tadpoles can pass away very easily or suffer from inadequate development. 

Bodily Functions

Dehydration can become severe and even fatal quite quickly within amphibians. Frogs need to drink water often to keep up their hydration levels, which support all aspects of health and bodily functions. Adequate water levels maintain countless functions, including the upkeep of cells, internal processes, and the health of their uniquely permeable skin. 

Thermoregulation

While drinking water mainly contributes to overall health, soaking in water or moist areas has a massive impact on body temperatures. Frogs are cold-blooded, and they need access to cool water or damp spaces to lower their temperatures when they get too hot. Frogs commonly find the nearest pond or moist area, or they bury themselves in damp soil during the day to remain hydrated while keeping cool. 

More About How Frogs Drink

While frogs may not live in water bodies or drink using their mouths, they still need environments with stable and sufficient water sources or moisture levels (CTNF). Frogs living near water bodies typically consume water by absorbing it through their skin, while frogs living inland often absorb moisture from damp soil, natural debris, and moisture found in the air. 

Learn more about how frogs drink and interact with water on our blog: