Some people find frogs cute; others would even look at them, nevermind accept touching these creatures. In whichever group you may be, one thing is for sure: frogs are essential animals in the animal kingdom, and some fascinating creatures scientists are continuously studying.
However, sometimes it may be challenging to classify frogs and to attribute them either the amphibians or reptiles features. But today, we will clear out possible misconceptions.
So, first of all, you should know that reptiles and amphibians are vertebrates; in simple words, these animals belong to families characterized by a backbone. However, reptiles and amphibians are quite different in many aspects and contrary to the general belief, they are not that similar. According to “Herpetology,” which is the science of studying reptiles and amphibians, today we will draw some information about both these groups.
What Are Frogs?
Frogs are part of the amphibian family, and they are tailless creatures that belong to the order Anura. If we strictly use the “frog” term, we can say that it can be limited only to the Ranidae (true frogs) family members. But if we think about frogs more broadly, the name is usually used to distinguish those smooth-skinned, hopping, leaping anurans from squat, cute-faced creatures called toads.
Here are some of the main characteristics of frogs we know about:
- Frogs have protruding eyes that are always starting at their prey;
- Frogs have no tail;
- These creatures feature some solid, webbed hind feet;
- Their feet have developed through years, so they are capable of both leaping and swimming;
- Frogs possess very smooth and moist skin;
- While some frogs spend their lives predominantly in the aquatic environment, some species live on land, even on trees and in caves;
For instance, Hyperolius or the Sedge Frogs can climb the African frogs using special adhesive toe disks. On the other hand, there come the flying frogs, scientifically named Rhacophorus, which are three-dwelling.
And finally, one of the most impressive types of frogs are the Old World Rhacophoridae, which can glide somewhere around 40 to 50 feet; how do they do it? Well, they are expanding webbing between their toes and fingers. Impressive, right?
Most frogs scientists have been studying have poisonous skin glands; however, these toxins are not harmful and do not provide enough protection from the predators, such as snakes, birds, or mammals.
What frogs do for their protection is called camouflage; no wonder frogs have those “military” colors, so they can perfectly blend with the backgrounds. Other frog species can change their color shades.
Does it remind you of chameleons? Some frog species come with bright colors on their underparts, making the animal flash as they start moving. This is another tactic for confusing their enemies or simply warning them of the frogs’ poison.
Most of the frogs will feed themselves with insects; others would prefer small arthropods, even worms. However, as odd as it might sound, many frogs will eat other rodents, frogs, even species of reptiles.
Are Frogs Reptiles?
Well, the answer is straightforward: no, they are not reptiles. Frogs are amphibians, and you will understand why by keeping on reading. We want to make sure that everyone will understand why these creatures are not reptiles, mainly by explaining some of the most important differences between the two species.
So this is the quickest answer you were searching for. But please, continue reading all this information to understand the differences between reptiles and amphibians better.
Why Aren’t Frogs Reptiles?
While there are a lot of similarities between frogs and other tiny reptiles, such as turtles or lizards, once you dig deeper into science, you will get to know the opposite. The similarities between frogs and lizards, for instance, led some people to think both of these groups belong to the reptiles family.
Let’s start with the similarities. So, frogs and reptiles are both animals, so we need to agree with this statement before anyone will ask. Both reptiles and frogs are vertebrates, which is another similarity, so these animals have backbones.
Adult amphibians and all the reptiles that have been studied so far have four legs or flippers that help them swim and jump. Many frog species, crocodiles, and reptiles spend half of their life in water, while the other half on land.
Most of the reptiles, as well as frogs, are carnivorous. As such, they will eat other animals to survive rather than plant species.
Both reptiles and frogs are popular as “cold-blooded” creatures. This means they cannot change their body temperature alone, but they are dependent on external factors.
So, to survive and have the right body temperature, they will lay under the sun when it is cold outside or hide in the shadows during hot summer days. If you want the scientific definition of cold-blooded animals, you can call them “ectothermic.”
Some cute reptiles, such as tiny turtles and terrapins, look very similar to frogs, so most people could say that these animal groups are related. Not to mention amphibians like newts and salamanders that look so similar to reptiles like lizards.
Do not let yourself be fooled by the appearances, as there are significant differences between frogs (amphibians) and snakes.
Amphibians Vs. Reptiles
The most crucial difference between amphibians and reptiles is the process of growing up and multiplying- starting with their eggs.
Most people do not know that the eggs of amphibians and reptiles are quite different than they would expect. Amphibians, meaning the frogs, will need water to lay their eggs in. A jelly-looking substance protects these eggs.
However, there is no exact defending barrier that can protect the eggs of the amphibians from the surrounding predators. These species which frogs are part of are called Anamniotes.
Reptiles, on the other hand, are Amniotes. This means reptiles are protecting their embryos from the possible outside dangers using some membranes. These membranes are tough and look like actual skin, protecting the animal from the outside world.
Because there is no restriction in having babies in water, amniotes can develop in many habitats. No wonder reptiles and mammals are mainly everywhere, and they have the chance of conquering the world. This is why amphibians and other Anamniotes, like fish, will especially breed into the water.
Frogs Breeding Process
So, the regular breeding of frogs will usually take place in freshwater, as most amphibians do. Depending on the species, the eggs, which are in a significant number, somewhere around a few hundred to several thousand, will start floating off in clusters, sheets, or strings.
These eggs may become attached to various water plants and float with them on the water’s surface; unfortunately, some eggs might sink.
Tadpoles hatch in very few days or a week or more, so then they metamorphose into frogs just within a couple of months to three years. The frogs will develop their limbs and lungs; then, the tail will be absorbed.
Finally, the mouth will become typically froglike. When it comes to tropical frogs, the eggs will be stored somewhere on land.
Metamorphosis During Frog’s Life
Although their main organs will develop from the first months, amphibians’ bodies, meaning the frogs will completely change during their lives. This whole process is called metamorphosis. When you hear this word, you might start thinking about the spiritual part.
But no, this process begins with the larvae stade, which usually takes place in water, and ends up with entirely different bodies, once the frogs are complete adults.
As seen in most of the science’s pictures, the frog embryos are surrounded by this jelly-like substance. Frog larvae are also called tadpoles. These tadpoles will develop right inside this jelly-like substance.
During the tadpoles, frogs will only have grills, the specific body parts that are essential in breathing under the water. As you can imagine, frogs do not have legs or arms at the beginning of their lives but only tails to help them swim.
During their existence, the frogs’ bodies will start changing. Slowly, their tails and gills will disappear, and the lungs will immediately develop. Eventually, the larvae will turn into adult frogs and start having the power to jump and breathe air.
Frogs, as amphibians, need to keep their skin all damp. This way, frogs can adapt to the habitats they will live in. If the weather is too hot, their skin will immediately dry out. On the other hand, reptiles can retain moisture, making them live in a wide range of environments, including even arid surroundings, like deserts.
In A Nutshell
Now that you have passed through all the information above, if anyone asks you about frogs, you will know to tell them that these creatures are not reptiles. Think about the eggs mainly and the metamorphosis process. It is the time to rehearse a long, studied answer with quick facts that will convince the people around you.