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Northern Leopard Frog
Source: USFWS
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Amphibia

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What are amphibians?

Amphibians are a class of animals like reptiles, mammals, and birds. They live the first part of their lives in the water and the last part on the land. When they hatch from their eggs, amphibians have gills so they can breathe in the water. They also have fins to help them swim, just like fish. Later, their bodies change, growing legs and lungs enabling them to live on the land. The word "amphibian" means two-lives, one in the water and one on land.

Amphibians are Cold-blooded

Like fish and reptiles, amphibians are cold-blooded. This means their bodies don't automatically regulate their temperature. They must cool off and warm up by using their surroundings.

Growing up from Egg to Adult

Most amphibians hatch from eggs. After they hatch, their bodies are still in the larvae stage. In this stage they are very fish like. They have gills to breathe under water and fins to swim with. As they grow older, their bodies undergo changes called metamorphosis. They can grow lungs to breathe air and limbs for walking on the ground. The transformation isn't the same in all amphibians, but most species go through some sort of metamorphosis.

Stages of a Frog

As an example of metamorphosis, we will look at the frog:

Lifecycle of a frog
Source: Meyers, pd

a) after hatching the frog is a tadpole with a tail and gills
b) it becomes a tadpole with two legs
c) a tadpole with four legs and a long tail
d) a froglet with a short tail
e) a full grown frog

Types of Amphibians
Where do they live?

Amphibians have adapted to live in a number of different habitats including streams, forests, meadows, bogs, swamps, ponds, rainforests, and lakes. Most of them like to live in or near water and in damp areas.

What do they eat?

Adult amphibians are carnivores and predators. They eat a variety of food including spiders, beetles, and worms. Some of them, like frogs, have long tongues with sticky ends that they flick out to catch their prey.

The larvae of many amphibians mostly eat plants.

Northwestern Salamander
Source: USFWS
Big and Small

The largest amphibian is the Chinese Giant Salamander. It can grow to 6 feet long and weigh 140 pounds. The largest frog is the Goliath Frog which can grow to 15 inches long (not counting the legs) and weigh over 8 pounds.

The smallest amphibian is a frog called the paedophryne amauensis. It is also the world's smallest vertebrate animal. It is about 0.3 inches long.

Fun Facts about Amphibians Activities

Amphibians Crossword Puzzle
Amphibians Word Search

For more about reptiles and amphibians:

Alligators and Crocodiles
Eastern Diamondback Rattler
Green Anaconda
Green Iguana
King Cobra
Komodo Dragon
Sea Turtle

American Bullfrog
Colorado River Toad
Gold Poison Dart Frog
Red Salamander

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