What Is The Difference between Amphibians and Reptiles?

So, what is the main difference between amphibians and reptiles? The former live-in aquatic environment during the larval stage and adults migrate to land while the latter are adapted to live on the terrestrial environment. 

Amphibians are organisms with dual life. These organisms can live both on land and in water.  Research shows that amphibians have porous skin that needs moisture. 

Reptiles are live on dry land and usually breathe through the lungs. These viviparous organisms have scales on their bodies to preserve moisture and offer protection against mechanical injuries.  Amphibians and reptiles share common similarities. It could be the reason why there was no zoological classification in the past. Many people usually find it challenging to tell the difference between amphibians and reptiles ks2.

Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. These are individuals that help to tell the differences between reptiles and amphibians in the world.  This article provides further differences between amphibians and reptiles in a tabular form. Take the time to read through and get to know the similarities between reptiles and amphibians. 

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Difference between Amphibians and Reptiles (With Table)

Basic Terms




These are cold-blooded vertebrates that live in water and land.

These are cold-blooded vertebrates adapted to the terrestrial environment.

Unique Feature

Have a dual-mode of existence.

These are creeping or crawling animals.


Smooth, moist, and highly porous.

Dry scales made from keratin.


Have glands on the skin to remove toxic secretions from the skin.

The skin has no such glands.


Adults respire through skin and lungs.

Offspring respire through gills.

Pulmonary respiration.


Have short forelimbs with long hindlimbs that are webbed.

Have four limbs except for that snake that crawls.

Heart Structure

Has three-chambered hearts with two auricles and one ventricle.

Some have four-chambered hearts while the other three-chambered heart.

Eyes Vision

Cannot distinguish numerous colors.

Have more advanced color sense and visual depth.


Even tongue

Bifurcated tongue

Cranial nerves

10 pairs

12 pairs


About 370 years ago

About 310 years ago.


Over 5500 species

Over 6500 species

Nitrogenous waste


Uric acid





Lay eggs in water and cover with gel

Lay eggs on the land cover with a hard calcareous and leathery protective covering.


Contain aquatic larval form

No aquatic larval form

What Are Amphibians?

Amphibians are a diverse group of cold-blooded vertebrates belonging to the class Amphibia. This group includes familiar organisms such as frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Amphibians are characterized by a dual life cycle, transitioning through distinct aquatic and terrestrial stages during their lives.

One key feature of amphibians is their permeable skin, which serves as an important respiratory organ. This allows them to absorb oxygen directly from the environment, especially in aquatic habitats. While amphibians breathe through their lungs, the ability to respire through the skin distinguishes them from reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Amphibians typically undergo a metamorphic process, starting as aquatic larvae and transforming into terrestrial adults. This metamorphosis often involves changes in body structure, including the development of limbs and lungs. Amphibians are commonly associated with freshwater environments, such as ponds and wetlands, where they lay their eggs.

The life cycle of amphibians usually involves reproduction in water. Most species lay eggs in aquatic environments, and the larvae that hatch from these eggs often have gilled structures for breathing underwater. As they undergo metamorphosis, amphibians develop into adults capable of both aquatic and terrestrial life.

While amphibians are well-adapted to various environments, they are particularly sensitive to environmental changes, making them important indicators of ecosystem health. Factors such as pollution, habitat loss, and climate change pose significant threats to amphibian populations worldwide. Despite these challenges, amphibians play crucial roles in ecosystems, contributing to insect control and serving as prey for a variety of predators.

What Are Reptiles?

Reptiles are a diverse group of cold-blooded vertebrates belonging to the class Reptilia. They exhibit a wide range of physical characteristics and lifestyles, including snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and tuataras. One defining feature of reptiles is the presence of scales or scutes covering their bodies, providing a protective layer and minimizing water loss.

Reptiles are primarily terrestrial, adapted to life on land, although some species may have adaptations for semi-aquatic or arboreal lifestyles. Unlike amphibians, reptiles do not undergo metamorphosis; instead, they grow directly into miniature versions of the adult form.

One key physiological trait of reptiles is their cold-blooded nature, or ectothermy, which means they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. This characteristic influences their activity levels and metabolism, with reptiles often basking in the sun to raise their body temperature.

Reproduction in reptiles is notable for the production of amniotic eggs, enclosed in a protective shell that allows them to be laid on land. This adaptation is crucial for life on dry land and distinguishes reptilian reproduction from that of amphibians.

The diverse adaptations within the reptilian class have enabled them to inhabit a variety of ecosystems, ranging from deserts to rainforests. With a rich evolutionary history dating back to the era of dinosaurs, reptiles play significant ecological roles and contribute to the biodiversity of ecosystems worldwide.

Main Difference between Amphibians and Reptiles

  1. Amphibians have dual life (land and water) while reptiles have single life (land).
  2. Amphibians undergo metamorphosis whereas reptiles do not experience any larval stages.
  3. Salamanders, frogs, and toads are examples of amphibians while snakes, lizards, and turtles are examples of reptiles.
  4. Amphibians exhibit external fertilization whereas reptiles exhibit internal fertilization.
  5. Amphibians tend to breathe through skin, gills, and lungs while reptiles breathe through lungs.
  6. Amphibians have a narrower range of color spectrum while reptiles have a wider range of the color spectrum.
  7. Amphibians tend to secrete highly toxic substances on their skin for protection against predators while reptiles have hard scales all over the skin for protection.
  8. Amphibians lay eggs in water covered by a gel while reptiles lay eggs on land which have a hard protective shell.

Similarities between Amphibians and Reptiles

  1. Both belong to Chordata and Vertebrata
  2. Both are cold-blooded animals
  3. Both are omnivores.
  4. Both tend to experience shedding of skin
  5. Both exhibit skin color alternation

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The distinction between amphibians and reptiles encompasses several key features that reflect their biological differences. Amphibians and reptiles are both cold-blooded vertebrates, yet their habitats, reproductive strategies, and physiological characteristics set them apart.

Amphibians, such as frogs, toads, and salamanders, are semi-aquatic creatures with a dual lifestyle—living both in water and on land. They typically undergo metamorphosis, transitioning from aquatic larvae to terrestrial adults. Amphibians rely on moist environments as their skin is permeable and serves as an important respiratory organ, allowing them to absorb oxygen. Additionally, amphibians usually lay eggs in water or moist environments, and their young often have aquatic larval stages.

Reptiles, including snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles, are primarily terrestrial and have scales covering their bodies, providing protection and minimizing water loss. Unlike amphibians, reptiles have a well-developed, impermeable skin that prevents dehydration. Reproduction in reptiles involves amniotic eggs, which have a protective shell, allowing them to be laid on land. Reptiles do not undergo metamorphosis like amphibians; instead, they grow directly into miniature versions of the adult form.

In summary, the key differences between amphibians and reptiles lie in their habitats, skin characteristics, reproductive strategies, and life cycles. Amphibians are semi-aquatic with permeable skin, often undergoing metamorphosis, while reptiles are primarily terrestrial with impermeable scales, and they reproduce via amniotic eggs without undergoing metamorphic changes. Understanding these distinctions provides insight into the diverse adaptations and lifestyles of these two groups of vertebrates.

More Sources and References

  1. Reptile. Wikipedia 
  2. Amphibians. MRSD

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