Amphibians

Amphibians are animals that have the ability to live on land or in water. The name “amphibian” comes from the Greek word “amphibios” which means “living a double life”, an apt description of amphibians’ lifestyles.

Although amphibians have the ability to move from land to water, some species choose to live permanently on land, while others have adapted to a water-based life. Amphibians typically have moist skin through which they breathe. They also have a sophisticated double-channelled hearing system, eyesight that allows them to identify colours, and two-part teeth.

There are an estimated 6 500 amphibians alive today, including frogs and toads (Anura), newts and salamanders (Caudata), and caecilians (Gymnophiona). Amphibians that make up these three groups each have a starkly different appearance: Frogs and toads are tailless and squat with long, strong hind limbs used for jumping; caecilians have no limbs and are more wormlike and adapted to a burrowing existence; salamanders and newts have tails and two sets of limbs.

Green and black poison dart frog
(Dendrobates auratus)

Green and black poison dart frog
(Dendrobates auratus)

Despite its size and pretty colouration, this little frog is one of the most toxic animals in the world.

These little gems of the rainforest eat mites which contain potent alkaloid toxins and although the frogs are not affected, the toxins concentrate on their skins, providing them with a potent self-defence mechanism.

Their bright colours are a warning to all would-be predators: "Eat me at your peril!"

Some of the forest tribes where these frogs live traditionally use the skin secretions of these amphibians to coat their blowpipe darts – to deadly effect – hence their name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant bullfrog
(Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Giant bullfrog
(Pyxicephalus adspersus)

The bullfrog is the world's largest frog and it's found in South Africa. Bullfrogs spend most of the year in chambers several metres underground, waiting for the rains to come. If necessary they can remain underground for several years. When it does rain, all the bullfrogs burrow up to the surface and find a pond in which to mate and lay eggs.

They are named for their booming mating call which sounds like the bellowing of a bull. Males guard the puddles in which the eggs are laid even after the tadpoles have hatched. Bullfrogs eat anything that moves and fits into their mouths, including other frogs!