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Reptiles and amphibians are two distinct classes of animals, but they are often confused. People may use the terms interchangeably or think that one is a subset of the other, but there are actually some key differences between these creatures.

In this article, we’ll explore what sets reptiles and amphibians apart from each other.

Reptiles have been around for hundreds of millions of years, while amphibians have been around for much longer. Reptiles typically live on land and breathe air through lungs, while amphibians can live in both water and land environments and rely on their skin to absorb oxygen. Reptiles usually lay dry eggs that require no water to incubate, whereas amphibian eggs must stay wet in order to hatch.

reptile and amphibian

Origin And Evolution

Reptiles and amphibians have been around for millions of years, but they have evolved differently over time. Reptiles are descended from the earliest land animals, which appeared during the Carboniferous period more than 300 million years ago. They adapted to life on land by developing tough leathery skin and laying hard-shelled eggs that can survive out of water.

Amphibians evolved separately from their reptilian relatives, appearing in the fossil record about 360 million years ago. They adapted to living both on land and in water by producing a sticky protective slime that allowed them to breathe through their skin underwater.

A major difference between reptiles and amphibians is their habitats: reptiles tend to inhabit dry land, while amphibians prefer wetter areas, such as ponds or streams. Reptiles also typically have dry scaly skin and breathe with lungs, while amphibians’ skin is moist and slimy, allowing them to absorb oxygen directly from the environment without lungs. Additionally, reptiles usually lay shelled eggs on land that hatch independent young; amphibian eggs are usually laid in water and develop into larvae before maturing into adults.

Reptiles are endothermic animals that rely on internal heat sources like metabolism to regulate their body temperature. Amphibians, on the other hand, are ectothermic creatures that rely mostly on external sources like sunlight or warm rocks to help regulate their body temperature. This difference affects how they move around in certain environments; reptiles tend to be more active during the day when it’s warmer outside but can be active at night as well.

Amphibians, however, tend to be less active during cold weather since they rely so heavily on external sources of heat for survival.

Reptiles and amphibians may look similar but there are several key differences between them that set them apart from one another: habitat preferences, type of skin covering, egg types laid by females, breathing methods used by males and females alike, and body temperature regulation strategies all differ between these two groups of animals.

Habitat And Environment

Reptiles and amphibians can be differentiated by their habitats and environments. Reptiles are found in almost all areas of the world, from deserts to forests and even marine environments. They can survive in a wide range of climates and habitats, as long as they have access to water for hydration.

Meanwhile, amphibians live mainly near water sources, such as ponds or streams, and require wetter conditions than reptiles. Amphibian skin is also much more permeable than reptile skin so they need to stay moist in order to stay healthy.

The diet of reptiles and amphibians also differs greatly. Reptiles are mostly carnivorous, meaning they consume other animals for sustenance. They may hunt or scavenge for their food depending on the species.

Amphibians, on the other hand, are mainly carnivores or omnivores, meaning they feed on both plants and animals. Smaller amphibians may also feed on insects while larger ones may hunt fish or even small mammals.

Reptiles and amphibians both have unique characteristics that make them adapted to their environment but there are some major differences between them which sets them apart from one another when it comes to their habitat and environment preferences. Despite these differences, both species play an important role in our ecosystems so it is important that we understand how they differ from one another in order to ensure their continued survival into the future.

Respiration And Oxygen

Reptiles and amphibians differ in the way they breathe and obtain oxygen. Reptiles rely on lungs for respiration and have developed a more efficient system than amphibians, who depend on their skin to absorb oxygen from the water.

Reptiles take in air through their nostrils and then use their lungs to expel waste gases, while amphibians rely on their gills to absorb oxygen from the water. Reptiles need to be able to move around in order to find fresh air, whereas amphibians can remain still in the same spot as long as there is enough oxygen in the water.

In addition, reptiles are capable of taking in oxygen through their mouth or even through their cloaca, which is an opening near the base of their tail that serves multiple functions such as excretion and reproduction. This allows them to spend time underwater without having to come up for air. Amphibians however do not have this option because they are unable to breathe underwater with any efficacy.

The difference between these two groups of animals also extends into how they regulate temperature and maintain homeostasis. Reptiles are ectotherms; this means that they depend on external sources such as sunlight or warm rocks to regulate body temperature, while amphibians are poikilotherms that rely on both internal and external sources.

This affects where each type of animal can live; reptiles tend to inhabit dry environments while amphibians prefer moist ones. Overall, reptiles and amphibians have distinct ways of breathing, obtaining oxygen and regulating temperature which helps determine where each species lives and how it survives best.

Egg Laying And Incubation

Reptiles and amphibians are both vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone. However, there are distinct differences between the two that set them apart.

One of the primary differences is in the way they reproduce. Reptiles lay eggs and then incubate them until hatching, while amphibians do not.

Reptile eggs are typically coated with a leathery or rubbery material to protect them from drying out as well as other environmental factors such as temperature variations or predation. This coating also helps to maintain the water content of the eggs, which is vital for development. The incubation period of reptile eggs varies greatly depending on species and environmental conditions, but can range from several weeks to several months before hatching.

In contrast, amphibians usually reproduce by means of external fertilization in which sperm and egg cells meet outside their bodies. The fertilized eggs develop into larvae which spend time in water until they metamorphose into their adult form with limbs and lungs – depending on the species – after which they leave the water for land-based habitats.

wild animal collection amphibian toad frog and salamander

Anatomy And Physiology

Although reptiles and amphibians share many similarities, they have distinct differences.

For example, reptiles are ectothermic, meaning that they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. Amphibians, on the other hand, are able to produce their own body heat through metabolic processes.

In addition, the skin of a reptile is typically covered in scales or bony plates while amphibians have moist skin often covered with mucous glands.

Lastly, most reptiles lay eggs with leathery shells whereas amphibians lay eggs in water and usually lack a hard shell.

When it comes to anatomy and physiology, there are also notable differences between these two groups of animals.

Reptiles typically have four legs and a long tail while amphibians may have four legs or two legs depending on the species.

Additionally, reptiles breathe using lungs as well as through their skin while amphibians generally only breath through their skin.

Furthermore, reptiles possess a three-chamber heart which helps them transport oxygen to all parts of their bodies more efficiently than amphibians whose hearts only contain two chambers.

Overall, although there are similarities between these two types of animals due to their shared evolutionary ancestry, there are also important distinctions between them when it comes to egg laying and incubation, as well as anatomy and physiology.

Understanding the differences between these two groups can help us better appreciate the various adaptations that each species has evolved over time in order to survive in different environments.


Reptiles and amphibians are two distinct species, with many similarities and differences. Reptiles evolved from land-dwelling amphibians millions of years ago. They have adapted to a wide range of habitats and environments, requiring different levels of oxygen for respiration.

Reptiles lay eggs which must be incubated in order to hatch, while amphibians often lay their eggs in water, where they develop without the need for incubation. Anatomically and physiologically these creatures differ greatly; reptiles are covered in scales or plates while amphibians have moist skin, and reptiles have lungs while amphibians absorb oxygen through their skin.

While these species share many traits, it’s clear that there are enough differences to separate them into two distinct categories. I hope this article has helped you understand the difference between reptiles and amphibians better.