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Amphibian FAQs

Where does the word “amphibian” come from?

Amphibian literally means “two-lives” or “both kinds of life.” Amphibians spend part of their life in water and part of their life on land. This makes them unique. All amphibians begin life in water and as they develop, they form features to allow them to habitat land (such as lungs and legs).

How many different types of amphibians are there?

There are over 4,000 known kinds of amphibians in the world including more commonly known amphibians like frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders, along with lesser-known amphibians like caecilians and blindworms (these are like oversized earthworms you might find in dirt or soil).

What are the biggest and smallest amphibians in the world?

The smallest of the amphibians is a micrihylid from New Guinea. This frog was first discovered in 2012 and has the average length of 7.7mm (very small even compared to other amphibians that are generally smaller in size). The largest of the amphibians is a Chinese giant salamander that clocks in at 1.8m. However, the largest of the amphibians to ever exist was even bigger—the Prionosuchus (similar to a crocodile) that was 9m long.

What are the main features of amphibians?

Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates. Additionally, amphibians have a very low metabolic rate and so do not need to consume a lot of food or produce a great deal of energy. Amphibians have movable eyelids and functional tear ducts, as well as ears that have the ability to detect vibrations from the air or the ground. Muscular tongues are also a common feature of amphibians (picture a frog catching a fly from mid-air). The skin glands of amphibians contain mucous glands that coat the animal and some even contain poison glands to protect them from predators. Interestingly, amphibians inhale air through their nostrils but breath out through their skin.

I heard that amphibians are “thin-skinned.” What does this mean?

That is correct, amphibians have incredibly thin skin and it is rather permeable. Gases and liquids can pass through the skin of amphibians pretty easily. This is important because amphibians breathe through their skin. Furthermore, amphibians commonly loose water through their skin and need to be in wet or moist climates in order to absorb and rejuvenate their level of hydration. Keeping a clean, appropriate environment is important to your pet amphibian.

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