• Pa-Hay-okee Overlook

    Everglades

    National Park Florida

Amphibians of the Everglades

Toads, frogs, and salamanders, oh my!
What do you suppose all these creatures have in common?

All of these creatures are amphibians.
Often people mistake these animals with another cold blooded group, the reptiles.
Remember cold blooded means these animals must rely on their surrounding environments to regulate or maintain their body temperatures.

Sometimes we all need a little help figuring things out, so let's take a closer look at what makes an amphibian an amphibian.

 
Frog

Imagine for a moment, that you're touching a frog's skin. How would it feel? Now imagine the back of an alligator, with its scaly back.

Which animal would have the smooth back and which would have the rough back?

It's all about the skin:
First
– Amphibian skin is smooth and moist. They do not have that thick, scaly skin that is a trait of all reptiles. Amphibians do not have scales, feathers, or even hair like other animals. Since it does not have that protective covering, an amphibian's skin can easily dry out.

Second – Since their skin is exposed, they can breathe or exchange gas (oxygen) through their skin (they can still breathe through their lungs too).

Third – To keep the skin moist, amphibians prefer moist, humid, and wet homes or habitats. They will also secrete mucus through their skin to help protect the skin and keep it moist.

 

The word amphibian comes from two Greek words amphis and bios which together means double life. That’s because amphibians spend part of their life in the water when they are growing up (like tadpoles) and later, most spend their adult life on land.

They will sometimes remain near sources of water, especially when it is time to lay eggs and reproduce.

 

When amphibians lay eggs they need to be near the water. Their eggs, unlike reptiles and birds, have no protective shell or covering. The eggs are jelly-like and can easily dry out on land.

When the eggs hatch, it is easy to see that the amphibian young look nothing like their parents. Frogs, toads, and salamanders start their life with no legs, having only a head and a tail. As tadpoles, they grow and develop, eventually losing their tails (in frog and toad cases). At adulthood, most amphibians leave the water and are able to live on land.

They typically eat insects, snails and slugs, spiders, and even earthworms.

Let's take a closer look at some of the most common Everglades' amphibians.

 
 
 

To return to the previous page click on Wildlife and to return to the main
Welcome page click on Learning about the Everglades.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Over the course of thousands of years, the natural communities of South Florida have become well adapted to the devastating effects of seasonal hurricanes. In fact, such storms are considered an important element in the long-term health of the Everglades.