Are Turtles Amphibians?

Frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and turtles share many traits in common, but not all of these animals are amphibians.

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.

Frogs are my favorite animals and they just so happen to be amphibians. Although I often see turtles when looking for frogs at my local marsh, there are many differences between these animals that classify turtles as reptiles.

Let’s have a closer look at the differences between amphibians and reptiles, as well as the differences between frogs and turtles.

Differences Between Amphibians And Reptiles

Generally, reptiles live on land whereas amphibians can live on land and water, reptiles reproduce internally whereas amphibians reproduce externally, and reptiles have dry, hard scaly skin whereas amphibians have smooth, moist porous skin.

Here is a summary of the differences between amphibians and reptiles:

CharacteristicAmphibians Reptiles
Adult HabitatLand And WaterLand
Larval HabitatWaterLand
ReproductionExternal FertilizationInternal Fertilization
Larval BreathingGillsLungs
AdultLungs And SkinLungs
SkinSmooth, Moist, PorusDry, Hard, Scales

Many of the differences between amphibians and reptiles relate to habitat, reproduction, and appearance. Although amphibians and reptiles differ in many ways, they also have many similarities.

Amphibians and reptiles are similar with regards to some of their characteristics since both types of animals are cold-blooded (ectothermic), have three-chambered hearts, and have a tail at the larval stage.

This blog is all about frogs which are amphibians, so let’s take the example of frogs and have a look at how frogs and turtles are similar and how they are different.

Similarities Between Frogs And Turtles

Frogs and turtles are similar with regards to some of their characteristics since both types of animals are cold-blooded (ectothermic), have three-chambered hearts, and have a tail at the larval stage.

CharacteristicFrogsTurtles 
Cold-Blooded (Ectothermic)YesYes
Can Live on LandYesYes
Can Live in WaterYesYes
Larval Stage Has TailYesYes
Three-Chambered HeartYesYes

Although frogs and turtles share many similarities, notably with regards to their preferred environments, there are many differences, especially at the species level. For example, True Toads do not have teeth, just like turtles do not have teeth.

Differences Between Frogs And Turtles

Frogs and turtles are different since, contrary to turtles, frogs reproduce by external fertilization, have no neck, have smooth, moist, porous skin, no tail, and hind limbs that are longer than their forelimbs which are made for jumping.

CharacteristicFrogsTurtles 
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
Skin Has ScalesNoYes

Although frogs and turtles can often be found in similar locations such as marshes, bogs, and swamps, an easy way to differentiate between frogs and turtles is based on their appearance.

Frogs do not have a hard shell on their back like turtles, nor do they have hard scaly skin. On a warm day, aquatic frogs are also much faster than turtles in the water. This is thanks to their anatomy that is specifically made for swimming very quickly (CTNF).

Also, frogs cannot live in saltwater, whereas many turtle species thrive in salt-water environments. This has to do with frog’s skin and how they breathe and drink and need to stay hydrated at all times. 

More About Amphibians

Turtles are very cool reptiles and I often see them swimming by the frogs when I’m at the marsh observing frogs in their natural habitat. Hopefully, this article made it much clearer as to why turtles are reptiles and not amphibians, and what makes frogs different from turtles as an example to illustrate this point.

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

Common Questions About Turtles And Amphibians

Is a turtle a reptile or an amphibian? Turtles are reptiles like snakes, crocodiles, and lizards so they are not amphibians. Unlike 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.

Are turtles considered animals? Turtles are considered animals of the Kingdom of Animalia, the Phylum of Chordata, the Class of Reptilia, the Clade of Perichelydia, and the Order of Testudines meaning “Shell.”

Do turtles reproduce internally or externally? Turtles reproduce internally and sexually. Generally, male and female turtles need to be involved for reproduction and they both have an opening on their tail that permits reproduction and excretion.

Why are turtles classified as Testudines? Turtles are classified as Testudines because they are reptiles with a body encased in a hard shell that developed from their ribs (Testudines meaning “shell”). Turtles have a dorsal bony carapace as well as a ventral bony plastron, no teeth, and reproduce by laying shelled eggs.

Are turtles amphibians yes or no? No, turtles are not amphibians, they are reptiles like snakes, crocodiles, and lizards. Unlike 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.

Is Turtle and Tortoise amphibian? Turtles and tortoises are not amphibians or mammals. They are classified as Reptiles due to their anatomy, breathing, scaly dry skin, reproductive habits.

Sources


Satria, Donan & Aritona, Fidelis & Eprilurahman, Rury. (2020). Characteristics of Shell Bone as an Identification Tool for Turtle Species (Reptiles: Testudines) in Java, Borneo, and Sumatra. Journal of Tropical Biodiversity and Biotechnology. 5. 35. 10.22146/jtbb.47227.

About The Author
Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.