Can Frogs Breathe Underwater

If you are a new pet frog owner then you need to know as much about frogs as possible. Knowing every important thing you need to know about frogs will help you to take good care of your frog and to know when to relax and when to be alarmed.

The answer to the question “Can frogs breathe underwater?” is in the affirmative. Frogs can definitely breathe underwater and for extended periods.

Amphibians can breathe underwater because they can absorb dissolved oxygen through their skins when underwater. So in case your frog stays underwater for a couple of minutes or hours, you should definitely not be alarmed. 

How Exactly Do Frogs Breathe Underwater

Frogs are amphibians that start active life as tadpoles. Frog tadpoles, like all amphibian tadpoles, live exclusively in water. They can live exclusively in water because they have gills for underwater breathing. 

However, as time goes by, they metamorphose into land-based adult creatures. As they metamorphose into land-based adult creatures, they slowly lose their gills and gradually start developing lungs for land breathing. While frog tadpoles are transitioning from an immature aquatic form to a land-based adult form, they still need to breathe underwater. So they start breathing through their highly permeable skins. 

When metamorphosis is complete and frog tadpoles are mature land-based adults, they can breathe through their lungs when on land and through their skins when in water. 

Therefore, the answer to “How Exactly Do Frogs Breathe Underwater?” is that they breathe underwater through their highly-permeable skins. 

How Exactly Do Frogs Breathe Through Their Skin?

Frog skin is akin to the alveoli in human lungs. The alveoli in human lungs allow the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air in them and the blood capillaries surrounding them. This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is what is known as breathing.

And it involves oxygen moving from where it is highly concentrated (the air in the alveoli) to where it is lowly concentrated (the blood vessels). Carbon dioxide moves in the opposite direction.

Frogskin is akin to alveoli in the sense that it also allows the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the outside world and the blood vessels running underneath it. It allows the exchange of gases because it is highly permeable.

So when a frog is underwater, it can breathe in dissolved oxygen through its skin. It can breathe this way for as long as it likes. This means it can stay underwater for as long as it likes because it can still get the oxygen it needs for survival.

A frog can use its skin to breathe even when on land. It just needs to ensure its skin is moist.

Why Do Frogs Have Lungs yet They Can Breathe through Their Skin even When on Land?

If you are wondering why frogs have lungs yet they can breathe through their skin even when on land, this is the section where you will find the answer. 

The amount of oxygen frogs can breathe through their skin is limited compared to the amount of oxygen they can breathe through their lungs. So when frogs are on land and they need more oxygen to jump around and to hunt for food, they breathe through their lungs to get maximum oxygen. And when they are resting and they do not need a lot of oxygen on land, they simply breathe through their skin. 

So frogs have lungs to breathe in oxygen when they need a lot of oxygen for jumping around or hunting for food.

Are Frog Lungs Well-Developed?

Yes, they are. People think the fact that frogs can breathe through their skin makes their lungs somewhat vestigial. However, the truth is that they are not. Frog lungs are very-well developed. This is because frogs spend a lot of time on land jumping around, chasing prey, and being chased by predators. So they frequently need a lot of oxygen in their bodies when on land. And they can only get a lot of oxygen into their bodies through lung breathing. 

When compared to the lungs in other amphibians, frog lungs are usually very well developed. They are well-partitioned and even have countless alveoli. This shows how very important they are for breathing and how very useful they are for frog survival.

Can a Frog Drown in Water?

Can man suffocate in nature? The answer to this is no in case you are not sure. It is not a trick question. The answer to “Can a frog drown in water?” is also no. As long as a water body has enough oxygen, it is theoretically impossible for a frog to drown in it. 

However, if the water body has low oxygen in it, a frog can theoretically drown it in. However, it won’t because it will instinctively come out of the water to breathe through its lungs.

So it is theoretically impossible for a frog to drown in water unless it cannot come out of a water body that has very little or zero dissolved oxygen in it.

How Long Can Frogs Stay Underwater?

The exact number of minutes frogs can stay underwater is unknown. This is because no credible study has ever been done to find out how long frogs can stay underwater.

Probably no study will ever be approved to find out how long frogs can stay underwater because such a study will probably be deemed by any institutional review board to be too risky and without any potential benefit to society. So as of now, the exact number of minutes a frog can stay underwater is unknown. 

However, considering what we know about frogs, we can estimate how long one can stay underwater. As mentioned earlier in this post, frogs can breathe through their skins.

Therefore, if the conditions underwater are perfect, it is my belief that a frog can stay indefinitely underwater. It can only come up if it really needs to but not necessarily to find oxygen. The sections below describe the conditions/ factors that determine how long a frog can stay underwater. 

Are There Other Amphibians That Can Also Breathe Underwater?

Yes, there are. Many amphibians can breathe underwater in one way or the other. For example, some salamanders such as the Mexican Axolotl can breathe underwater using gills.

Some salamanders can breathe underwater through their skin just like frogs. Amphibians that can hold their breath for a very long time also exist. So there are many amphibians adapted to spending a bit or a lot of time underwater. 

FAQs

What Factors Affect How Long My Frog Can Stay Underwater?

If you are asking this question because your frog has been underwater for a while now, do not worry. I say this because frogs can breathe underwater for a very long time. In fact, many frogs can stay underwater indefinitely. However, my guess is that your frog won’t stay underwater indefinitely. This is because there are several factors that will interfere with its underwater stay. 

Perhaps the biggest factor that will affect how long your frog can stay underwater are the levels of oxygen in it. On one hand, if your tank’s water feature has plenty of dissolved oxygen in it, your frog can stay underwater for a very long time.

On the other hand, if your tank’s water feature does not have a lot of oxygen in it, then your frog will probably come out sooner than you think. This is because frogs need plenty of oxygen to breathe underwater. Therefore, where there is little oxygen underwater, they exit water bodies and come to the surface to breathe. 

If your frog has been underwater for a while now, it has probably already significantly reduced the oxygen levels in it. This is unless you have an air pump in your water feature that is causing surface water movement and enabling more oxygen to dissolve into it in the process. If you do not have an air pump or if you switch off your air pump, your frog will quickly deplete the oxygen in your tank’s water feature and it will soon come out for air. 

The second biggest factor that will affect how long your frog can stay underwater is its biological need for food. Your frog will come out from underwater when it feels hungry. And although adult frogs can go for some hours without eating, most adult frogs will feel hungry within just a couple of hours. So if your frog has been underwater for a couple of hours now, give it a bit more time; it will soon feel hungry and surface to eat. 

The third biggest factor that will affect how long your frog can stay underwater is the temperature of the water in your water feature. If you increase the temperature of your heat lamp or if you bring it closer to your tank’s water feature, the temperature of the water will go up. This will have the effect of increasing your frog’s metabolism and demand for oxygen. Within a couple of minutes, your frog will come to the surface to breathe in more oxygen through its lungs.

As you can see, there are several factors that will prevent your frog from staying underwater for long. So if your frog has been underwater for a while now, do not be alarmed. Just let your frog be. Nature (reducing oxygen levels underwater or biological need for food) will soon force it to come to the surface to breathe, to eat, and to play.

Conclusion

It is my hope that this post has been informative to you and that you now know that frogs can breathe underwater and that they can do so for a long time if they want to. Frogs can breathe underwater through their skins. They can also breathe on land through their skins but they prefer to use their lungs when they are active so as to absorb more oxygen. 

If you landed on this page because your frog has gone underwater, it is my hope that the section above this conclusion has calmed you down. Frogs can stay underwater for a long time but several things make it impossible for them to stay underwater indefinitely. So if your frog has been underwater for a while now, give it time. It will come out sooner than you think.