Tree frogs have special suction pads on their feet that let them climb almost anything. Photo courtesy Al Walters.
|Amphibians include frogs, toads, and salamanders. These animals are normally thought of as aquatic, but they do inhabit forests in both temperate and tropical regions. Salamanders, with their long, thin bodies, are sometimes confused with lizards, but lizards are reptiles. Amphibians have smooth, scaleless skin and toes without claws, while reptiles are distinguishable by their rough scales and claws.|
Amphibians are limited in where they can live because they need access to pools of fresh water in which to lay their eggs. Although some amphibians can spend their entire adult lives on dry ground, all of their eggs need to be laid in the water. All amphibians, like insects, go through a complete metamorphosis between their larval and adult stages. Amphibians begin their lives in the ponds where they hatched from their eggs. Sometimes these ponds are tiny pools of water between the leaves of a plant, or they are large expanses of wetlands within the forest (riparian zones). The small, aquatic tadpoles you can try to catch from ponds in the spring eventually grow legs and mature into frogs. The complete metamorphosis of amphibians allows them to take advantage of two separate habitats during different stages of their lives. Metamorphosis is much more common in insects than in vertebrates.
[reptiles] [riparian zones]
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