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Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Local animals in this group:

frogs, salamanders, and caecilians


Amphibians include frogs , toads (actually a family of frogs), and salamanders . Amphibians are vertebrates, so they have a bony skeleton. Most amphibians live part of their lives underwater and part on land. Amphibians reproduce by laying eggs that do not have a soft skin, not a hard shell. Most females lay eggs in the water and the babies, called larvae or tadpoles, live in the water, using gills to breathe and finding food as fish do. As the tadpoles grow, they develop legs and lungs that allow them to live on land. This big change is called "metamorphosis." Even after they change, amphibians still have soft moist skin, and nearly all of them have to live in damp places, so they don't dry out.

All amphibians are predators on other animals and will often eat any animal that is small enough to be swallowed whole. Most can only eat invertebrates, but some larger amphibians will eat small fish, other amphibians, or even small mammals.

All amphibians are cold-blooded, like fish, snakes, lizards, and turtles. Cold-blooded means that the animals cannot control their temperature with body heat, and must use the heat of the sun or their environment to stay warm. Most amphibians live on the ground in wetlands or forests, but some live up in trees, and a few species can survive in deserts and other dry habitats. Most kinds of amphibians live in warm, damp climates, only a few kinds can survive in Michigan.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Amphibia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 18, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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