Have you ever thought a frog was a reptile?
Have you noticed how similar, yet different frogs are from reptiles?
Do you wonder why a frog isn’t a reptile?
While frogs share a lot of similarities with the reptile family, they are amphibians.
So what’s the difference?
Why aren’t frogs reptiles?
Frogs are considered amphibians instead of reptiles because their skin is porous, they need to live in habitats where water is plentiful, and they go through a process called metamorphosis.
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The Similarities between Frogs and Reptiles
Though they may seem closely related, amphibians and reptiles are two very different kinds of animals.
They share many similarities, though, so it’s understandable why many people consider frogs to be members of the reptile family.
Both frogs and reptiles are coldblooded animals.
This means they do not regulate their body temperature the way humans and mammals do.
Frogs and reptiles rely on their environments to control their body temperature.
Frogs also share a similar body structure with reptiles.
Both are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone.
Frogs also have four legs, like many reptiles.
Both reptiles and frogs produce eggs, though frog eggs are very different from reptile eggs.
Reptile eggs have a hard exterior and a tough inner membrane to protect the new life inside.
However, frog eggs do not provide much protection for their offspring and have more of a jelly-like exterior.
Reptiles and frogs are carnivores, eating meat instead of plants.
You will find reptiles and frogs in the water and on land, though frogs spend more time in the water than reptiles do.
While they come in many different varieties, reptiles include four main species: turtles, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles.
Frogs are one member of the amphibian family.
Other amphibians include toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians.
While they share many similarities, frogs are not reptiles.
So let’s look at what makes a frog an amphibian.
Why Frogs Are Not Reptiles
The word amphibian means “double life.”
This is a fitting name for this group of creatures because amphibians do have a double life.
The first half of their life is spent living in water, while the second half mostly spent on land.
Along with living a double life, frogs are not considered reptiles for many other reasons:
Reason #1 Frogs Need to Live Near Water
All creatures require water to some extent to survive, but frogs are especially needy when it comes to water.
Frogs spend the first part of their lives exclusively in water.
Because of the nature of how frogs reproduce and grow, they need water to lay eggs and to survive during their larvae stage.
While reptiles lay eggs on land, many frogs lay their eggs in or near water.
Not all frogs lay their eggs underwater, but water is always nearby.
Frog eggs, with their jelly-like consistency, would not survive on land.
These kinds of eggs need ample moisture to produce healthy offspring.
Their porous skin also means their bodies have no way of retaining moisture; therefore, they must stay close to water sources.
This means frogs, as well as other amphibians, are very limited in where they live.
The moisture in a frog’s skin helps it absorb water and oxygen from its environment.
If a frog’s skin is no longer moist, they won’t be able to breathe or get rid of the carbon dioxide from their bodies and will die.
Reason #2: Frogs Have Porous Skin
Another big difference between frogs and reptiles is their skin.
Reptiles have a thick layer of hard scales around their body to provide protection from the elements and help trap moisture in their bodies, so they do not become dehydrated.
Because of their scales, reptiles do not need to be near the water all the time.
Frogs, however, do not have scales.
Their skin is moist, smooth, and porous.
They do not have protective armor around their bodies the way reptiles do.
However, their porous skin provides a defense mechanism of its own.
Many frogs are poisonous and excrete toxins to protect themselves.
The coloring of a frog’s skin also aids in keeping it safe.
Many frogs are poisonous, and their bright colors warn off predators.
Others have colors and patterns to help them to blend in with their surroundings for protection.
The nature of a frog’s skin also helps it breathe.
Frogs absorb water and oxygen through their skin.
However, this also makes them very sensitive to pollutants or toxins in their environment.
In winter, some frogs will hibernate underwater because their skin allows them to absorb oxygen from the water.
Reason #3 Frogs Go Through Metamorphosis
When reptiles hatch from their eggs, they are small versions of what they will be as full-grown adults.
However, this is not the case with frogs.
The form frogs have when they hatch is vastly different from what they will look like as adults.
When frogs lay their eggs, they lay an egg mass.
Once the frog eggs hatch, new frogs go through a process of growth and change called metamorphosis.
It takes 3-4 months for an egg to develop into a full-grown frog.
The first stage of a frog’s life is the larvae stage.
At this stage, they are called tadpoles.
Tadpoles have tails and gills and spend the first several weeks of their lives entirely in water.
The next stage of a frog’s metamorphosis is called the froglet stage.
During this stage, the tadpole develops quickly and begins to look more like a frog.
It grows legs, and its organs develop to allow it to live on land.
Once their lungs have developed, frogs lose their tails and gills.
By this time, frogs are fully grown and move to land.
While frogs do share many similarities with reptiles, they are not reptiles.
Because of their need for water, the stages of metamorphosis, and their porous skin, frogs are proud members of the amphibious family.
Come read our beginner’s guide to reptiles and amphibians. It’s a huge comprehensive guide that will help you grasp all the basics.