Are frogs reptiles? No, they are not. Frogs are not reptile (and have never been). Frogs belong to a different group of animals in the animal kingdom known as amphibians. So a frog is an amphibian and not a reptile. And amphibians are totally different from reptiles.
In this post, I will expand on the “Are frogs reptiles” question by expounding on the dissimilarities between frogs (amphibians) and reptiles.
Therefore, if you are looking for a brief answer to the question that is the title of this post, it is no. Frogs are not reptiles. Frogs ARE amphibians. However, if you want to know more about frogs and amphibians in general and their differences with reptiles, please read on.
Are Frogs Reptiles?
There are plenty of similarities between frogs and many small reptiles such as chameleons, pythons, rat snakes, and geckos. Frogs are also usually discussed in the same breathe as reptiles.
The similarities between frogs and small reptiles and the fact that frogs and reptiles are usually discussed together may make many people think that frogs are reptiles. Or that frogs belong to the reptile class of animals. However, as stated in the intro, frogs are not reptiles.
Admittedly, frogs and small reptiles do share many similarities. For example, they are both animals and they are both vertebrates; they belong to Phylum Chordata. Frogs and reptiles also sometimes live in the same ecosystems.
For example, both frogs and crocs like living near constant water bodies and depend on such water bodies for water, food, and temperature regulation. Adult frogs and reptiles are also predators. They like targeting and eating small animals including fellow frogs and reptiles. But the small ones (small frogs and reptiles) prefer insects and plants.
Perhaps the biggest similarity between frogs and reptiles is the fact that they are both cold-blooded. In other words, they are both at the mercy of their environment. When their surroundings get cold, they take on the chill. And when their surroundings get hot, they take on the heat. So they both cannot control their own body temperature.
It is the environment that controls their body temperature, which means that they must respond in some way to maintain their temperature at just the right temperature. For instance, when it gets too hot, frogs and some reptiles will get into water to cool off. And when it gets too cold, frogs and some reptiles such as lizards and geckos, will increase their metabolism and bask in the sun to warm up.
From the above information, it is easy for one to think or assume that frogs are reptiles. However, frogs are not reptiles. In fact, frogs are very different from reptiles. In the next section of this post, I will share with you the differences or dissimilarities between frogs (amphibians) and reptiles. By the end of the section, you will know for sure that frogs are very different from reptiles and that they are certainly not reptiles.
Are Frogs Reptiles: The Differences between Frogs and Reptiles
There are plenty of differences between frogs and reptiles. The differences start from right when they are born.
Although both frogs and reptiles start as eggs, their eggs are quite dissimilar. Frogs and other amphibians are anamniotes, while reptiles are amniotes. Anamniotes are animal species that lay their eggs in water. Their eggs are usually surrounded by a material that is jelly-like. The material just sort of holds the eggs together. It does not act as a protective shield or provide any serious protection from the environment.
As stated above, frogs and amphibians, in general, are anamniotes. In contrast, reptiles are amniotes. They give birth to eggs that are surrounded by a protective egg. The eggs can protect them from the environment and do not necessarily need to be born in water.
Since frogs and amphibians, in general, are anamniotes, they do need to live near a constant water body because they can only give birth to eggs in water. This means it is very rare to find them somewhere without water since they need water to survive.
In contrast, since reptiles are amniotes with tough eggs that can be born anywhere, they do not necessarily need to live near constant water sources. This explains the fact why frogs and amphibians in general, can only be found near water bodies while reptiles can be found just about anywhere including in very dry areas.
Another difference between frogs and reptiles can be seen in the fact that frogs undergo metamorphosis while reptiles do not. Metamorphosis is a process that includes the complete transformation of bodies sometimes several times before the final adult form. Frogs usually start as frog embryos in a jelly-like covering.
They then grow into larvae in water. Frog larvae are referred to as tadpoles. Tadpoles have a tail and can swim. Tadpoles also have gills, which means they can breathe underwater just like fish. This is the reason why they almost always stay underwater and do not surface.
Tadpoles don’t have legs and arms like adult frogs. However, as time goes by, they develop legs and arms slowly. As their legs and arms develop, their tails also gradually disappear. As time goes by, they also develop their lungs and their gills start to gradually disappear. So their bodies change significantly as they grow from larval form to mature form.
This is unlike reptiles that typically start off and die having the same shape and body features. The only thing that changes as reptiles grow is their body size. So in short, frogs start as tadpoles that are capable of breathing underwater like fish and swimming and they transform into adults that cannot breathe like fish and leap on land. This is in contrast to reptiles such as lizards and geckos that do not experience any changes in their features.
Another significant difference between frogs and reptiles is in body size. While the biggest frog is the goliath frog that measures about 32 cm in length and weighs about 3.3 kg, the biggest reptile is the saltwater crocodile and it measures about 6 meters in length and weighs more than a ton. In general, most frogs are smaller than most reptiles.
Lastly, there is a difference between frogs and reptiles in the skin. Frogs and most amphibians, in general, need to keep their skin moist. This is because they breathe through their lungs and through their skin. So if they do not keep their skin moist, they will not be able to breathe through their skin.
This is also one of the reasons why they stay close to water bodies. In contrast, reptiles generally have dry and scaly skins and they can retain moisture in their scales. This enables them to live even in very dry places.
As you can see from the paragraphs above, there are significant differences between frogs and reptiles. The differences show that frogs are very different from reptiles in terms of how they grow, where they live, their body size, and their skin type/ how they breathe. So they cannot be reptiles. They are much more similar to amphibians such as toads, newts, and salamanders. This is why they are classified as amphibians.
From the information in this post, I am sure you are now convinced that frogs are not reptiles. They look like amphibians, they grow like them and they live like them. And as the say, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck. So frogs are amphibians. And don’t just take my word for it; it is how they are classified in the animal kingdom. You will find no reputable biological text or journal referring to or classifying frogs as reptiles.