Amazing Amphibian Adaptations: Can Frogs Breathe Underwater? | Kidadl

FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS

Amazing Amphibian Adaptations: Can Frogs Breathe Underwater?

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Frogs and toads are amphibians who have highly permeable skin.

Amphibians are able to breathe underwater due to special adaptations. They can remain submerged in water and cannot die.

Frogs belong to the amphibian family. Amphibians can live on land as well as in water. Frogs are known to swim in the water. They can even stay underwater for extended periods of time. Frogs do not drown in water. This is because amphibians have adapted, over the years, to live and survive on land as well as underwater. They have highly permeable skin which allows them to breathe underwater. Frogs are cold-blooded animals, so they can survive in both environments. It is amazing how amphibians have developed these adaptations. To understand more about frogs and other amphibians stick around with us.

After reading all about the breathing ability of this aquatic animal, you should also check out why frogs croak and how frogs mate.

How can frogs breathe through their skin?

Frogs are amphibians, so the question can frogs breathe underwater is answered, since amphibians are adapted to live on land as well as underwater. Frogs, being a part of that family, can breathe underwater. But lungs prove to be useless underwater. So frogs had to adapt and develop another method for breathing. Thus, they evolved and started breathing through their skin. How can any animal breathe through its skin? Let's find out how the skin of frogs enables them to breathe on land as well as underwater.

Frogs have very thin skin and are therefore able to breathe through the skin surface. Their skin is highly permeable, so it allows water and certain other components to pass in and out of it. There are thin blood vessels on the surface of a frog's skin. These blood vessels absorb oxygen dissolved in the water. Oxygen levels in the water have to be high for the skin to be able to absorb oxygen for breathing. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are passed in and out of the skin of frogs when they stay underwater. This type of respiration through the skin is known as cutaneous respiration. It is because of the adaptation of cutaneous respiration that frogs are able to breathe underwater. Bodies of frogs have to be moist for underwater breathing as well as on-land breathing. If their skin dries up then breathing through the skin becomes very difficult. There are mucus glands under the skin of frogs. These mucus glands continuously produce mucus to keep the skin moist. In winters, this mucus tends to dry up and frogs hibernate.

How do frogs breathe underwater?

Frogs have three different respiratory methods. They can breathe through their lungs, through their skin, and through their mouths. When we ask can frogs breathe underwater the direct answer is yes. They can survive very well underwater without feeling the need to surface. Out of these three respiratory methods, breathing through lungs is not possible underwater. If frogs start breathing through their nostrils and taking in air underwater, instead of air, water will fill their lungs. Lungs will absorb all this water and their bodies will get heavy. There is a considerable chance that frogs will drown if their lungs are filled with water.

For frogs to be able to stay underwater they cannot use their lungs for respiration. They use the other two methods of respiration available to breathe underwater. Breathing through the mouth is doable underwater but it is not that efficient. Only a small amount of dissolved oxygen is absorbed from the water when frogs use their mouth for respiration. But their skin, on the other hand, can efficiently pass oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of a frog's body. It is said that frogs can remain underwater for four hours to seven hours without coming to the surface. Frogs lay their eggs in shallow regions of water. These eggs hatch where they are laid. When frogs are in their larval stage, they have gills, just like fish. Tadpoles use these gills to breathe. Before the water is passed out, oxygen is absorbed from the water, and carbon dioxide goes out through gills. Tadpoles stay underwater until they develop lungs.

Amphibians deal with slow diffusion of oxygen through their blood.

Are frog lungs well-developed?

Frogs are not born with lungs. In the larval stage, they do not have any lungs. Tadpoles, just like fish, have gills on their body. Their respiratory system includes lungs after they form their hind legs. Tadpoles are submerged in water until they completely develop into frogs. Since lungs of frogs are not present at birth, their development in later stages of life forms only semi-strong lungs. Lungs of frogs are not as strong as those of humans.

Adult frogs start developing lungs. It is a process that occurs later in their life cycle. Therefore, they do not have the same capacity as human lungs. Frogs do not have a diaphragm to support their lungs while breathing. They have to make space in their body so that their lungs can expand when they take in oxygen. Frogs lower floors of their mouths to pull air into their mouths. It causes their necks to expand. Their nostrils then expand and let air into the larger mouth. Their nostrils then close, and the air in their mouths is pushed into their lungs by the contraction of their mouth floors. To expel carbon dioxide from their lungs, the floor of the mouth slides downward and pulls air from their lungs and into their mouths. Finally, their nostrils open, and the floor of their mouths is raised to force air out of their nostrils. Only adult frogs are capable of going through this process. When frogs are tadpoles they cannot participate in the on-land breathing process.

Which amphibians can also breathe underwater?

To be able to breathe on land as well as underwater is a special characteristic of amphibians. Only certain creatures are capable of breathing on land as well as underwater. There are several factors that determine whether animals will be able to breathe in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. There are many species of amphibians who possess this unique and fascinating characteristic. Several creatures would love to have the same ability to breathe underwater but very few are lucky enough. Let's find out who these lucky animals are and how they possess the ability to breathe underwater.

Frogs are able to breathe on land as well as underwater. Frogs are amongst the luckiest animals who have this special ability. Being able to breathe underwater has its own benefits. Humans have created artificial technologies such as oxygen tanks to have the capability to breathe air underwater. Some other creatures that can breathe underwater are toads, olms, spring lizards, mudpuppies, tritons, axolotls, water dogs, hellbenders, sirens, salamanders, and newts. All these animals can survive underwater for extended periods of time. Toads are just like frogs; they have similar breathing mechanisms. It is tricky to differentiate between a toad and a frog if you are not knowledgeable about the distinct differences these two amphibians possess. Unlike frogs, not all salamanders have lungs. They have gills that stay with them throughout their lifespan. Like fish, they breathe underwater with the help of these gills. When they come on land, they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin. They do not have a separate respiratory system.

Do frogs breathe when they are hibernating?

We have established that frogs breathe underwater as well as on land. Tadpoles, before developing into frogs, have gills that enable them to breathe underwater. When on land, frogs use their lungs, mouth, and skin to breathe in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide. Lungs of frogs are not as well developed as those of humans. When in water, they use their skin to absorb oxygen dissolved in the water and give out carbon dioxide. Factors such as temperature and climate play a role in the hibernation of frogs. Frogs usually start hibernating when winter approaches.

As winter approaches, the temperature starts decreasing. With decreasing temperatures, the humidity and moisture in the environment also decrease. Especially in regions where it does not snow, the weather gets really dry. Dry surroundings are not ideal for frogs. The mucus layer on their skin starts to dry up because of the dry weather. The drying of the mucus layer causes difficulty in breathing for frogs. Therefore, adult frogs get submerged in water as winter starts. They hibernate throughout the winter season. They choose water bodies that have a lot of oxygen for them to breathe. Water bodies with less dissolved oxygen are all right for a while. But after a few days, frogs start experiencing a lack of oxygen and they have to search for a new place for hibernation. It is likely that they can die in the search for a hibernation place since they face difficulty in breathing on the land due to dry weather. Hibernating or not, frogs always breathe one way or another. To avoid having to find a new hibernation spot in the middle of winter, frogs choose places that have ample dissolved oxygen in the water.

When do frogs use their lungs?

Do you know why frogs have lungs yet they can breathe through their skin even when on land? Frogs are amphibians. They do not have lungs at birth.

Tadpoles have gills which they use to breathe underwater. Tadpoles cannot come on land unless they have developed lungs. It takes a while for frogs to develop a respiratory system similar to that of humans. There are several factors that affect their breathing capability. Since amphibians are adapted to live on land as well as in water, they are required to have breathing mechanisms that will allow them to breathe in aquatic as well as terrestrial environments. Gills alone cannot make it possible for frogs to breathe on land. That is why they develop lungs.

Lungs of frogs develop in later stages of their life. Their lungs are not well developed. Their lungs are much weaker compared to those of humans. It is true that frogs can breathe air through their skin. But there are limitations on the amount of oxygen skin can take in at a time. The use of skin for breathing serves to be an excellent technique in water but on land, it seems inadequate. Hence, despite having skin that can breathe air, frogs feel the need to have lungs. Coming on land does not mean that the frog's skin does not exchange gases. Its skin breathes even on land but to a lesser extent.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for can frogs breathe underwater then take a look at the difference between a frog and a toad or frog facts.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?