This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on the 7000 known species of Amphibians across the globe.
I say ‘amphibian’, you say…? Chances are you said ‘frog’. But did you know there are more than just frogs? Amphibians are a class of vertebrate creatures that include frogs, toads, newts and salamanders and there are around 7 000 known species of amphibian – with 90% of the class comprised of frogs.
We typically associate amphibians with living near water sources, such as ponds, lakes and rivers, but they can also be found in forests, woods or anywhere with sufficient moisture.
Amphibians come in a range of sizes and shapes. The giant salamander is the largest in the world, growing to 6,5 feet long and the Goliath bullfrog can weigh up to 7 lbs. But don’t overlook the little guys, Paedophryne amanuensis is tiny, at 0,3 inches, while the pygmy salamander can be mistaken for a worm at only 1 – 2 inches long.
Moisture is a key word in the world of amphibians, as they don’t have a protective layer of skin and oils like we do to keep us from drying out. What makes amphibians remarkable is that their skin acts as a secondary means of respiration. That’s right, they have lungs or gills to breathe, but they can also use their skin to breathe too. In fact, some smaller species of amphibian rely entirely on their skin to breathe.
Because of amphibians’ sensitive skin, they’re what we call ecological indicator species. They’re susceptible to changes in the ecosystem and to pollutants, so whenever something starts to go wrong in an otherwise healthy environment, frog, toad and salamander numbers decline quickly. They’re the aquatic equivalent of the metaphorical canary in a mine.
And while their skin can make them sensitive, it can also make them deadly. Poison arrow frogs in the Amazon rainforest have brilliantly colored skin to warn predators that they’re not a tasty snack. The poison is so strong that indigenous tribes will use the toxin on their arrows to hunt much larger animals.
Get to know more about amphibians in this section, where you’ll learn about what makes them unique, how important they are to habitats, how to look after them as pets and their contribution to the worlds of science and biology