Amphibians All Share These Characteristics


A northern leopard frog.

Amphibians live throughout the world in rainforests and on mountains.  Here are a number of things that frogs, toads, and salamanders all have in common.

Most of us think of frogs when we hear the word amphibian.  While frogs are quite common there are other kinds of amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and caecilians.  In fact, there are over 4,000 different kinds in the world, but less than 20 in the Rocky Mountains.  No matter where an amphibian lives or what kind it is, they all share certain things.  These common characteristics are what makes them different than other animals, such as reptiles, mammals or birds.

Where Do Amphibians Live?

They tend to live in moist, warm areas near ponds or streams.  But, there are some that live in grasslands or even in deserts.

One of the most important and coolest part of amphibians is that they live part of their life in water and part on land!  Most undergo metamorphosis during their life when they change from water breathing larvae to an air breathing adult!


A frog lifecycle shows how metamorphosis occurrs.

All Amphibians Have These Characteristics


They can breathe directly through their skin.

They are moist and have smooth skin.

Most have four legs.

Most have lungs as adults and gills as young.

How Are Amphibians and Reptiles Different?

One big difference is that reptiles have scales and amphibians don’t.   The scales allow reptiles to hold in moisture in their bodies better, which means they can live far from water.

Reptiles never live in and breathe water.

Amphibians undergo metamorphosis from a larvae to an adult, which means they change their form.  For example, a frog begins life as a tadpole before it becomes a frog.  In contrast, reptile babies are a copy of the adult, but are just smaller.