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Amphibians

Leaf_Frog-TCAmphibians are often mistaken for reptiles.
A toad is not a reptile and a snake is not an amphibian. The most well-known amphibian representatives are salamander, newts, frogs, toads, and caecilians. The word “amphibian” tells much about the amphibian lifestyle.  Amphibian literally means double life. They live part of their lives in water and part on land. The early part of every amphibian’s life is spent in the water.  Amphibian eggs are laid and hatch in water. Much like fish, young amphibians breathe through gills in water and do not have legs.  As they grow, amphibians go through a gradual change to develop legs, lungs, and other body parts in the process of becoming an adult. That change is called metamorphosis.

blue_frogAmphibians can do some pretty amazing things with their skin. As adults, most live on land and need to keep their thin skin moist by staying in contact with water or by covering their skin with slimy secretions from under their skin.  In addition, amphibians can actually breathe through their skin as well as their lungs. They cannot drink water through their mouths, so they also have the ability to absorb water through their skin. Like reptiles, all amphibians periodically shed their skin, but they have the interesting habit of eating it.  They most likely eat their skin to get the nutrients from it.

tomatoSome amphibians have another amazing ability shared by few other animals. They can regenerate, or grow back certain body parts that are damaged or bitten off by predators. Imagine being able to grow a new tail, leg, or toe. Some young amphibians can even grow new eyes or gills when they are injured.

Amphibians are able to survive in almost any environment even though they can’t make their own body heat like we can (they are ectothermic), and the temperature of their bodies changes with the temperature of their environment (they are poikilothermic). In hot, dry weather amphibians will burrow into the wettest ground in order to outlive the dry weather (they aestivate).  They survive cold winters by hibernating in the ground or in the mud at the bottom of ponds. Believe it or not, some amphibians can even be frozen in ice during the winter and come out of the experience very much alive in the spring.  They are survivors!

Click here for a list of amphibians

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