Amphibians are a fascinating classification of creatures that include toads, frogs, salamanders, newts and caecilians (limbless, serpentine amphibians). There are more than 6,000 species of amphibians living today, but many face threats to their survival.
Most amphibians have a permeable, thin skin that helps them to breathe. Oxygen easily passes through the skin for breathing, but so does water. This is why you will find most amphibians living in humid or moist environments where they can re-load on water.
Amphibians undergo the incredible change of life called metamorphosis. They begin as larvae (a juvenile stage which appears very different from the adult). Most amphibians lay eggs which hatch into larvae. For example, tadpoles (the larval stage of frogs) live underwater with gills & a tail. During metamorphosis, they lose their gills and develop lungs, thus enabling them to breathe out of water. They also lose their tails and grow limbs and in adulthood will spend much of their time on land.
Many amphibians are in danger, with a large number of species already extinct. Habitat loss and degradation, pollution, climate change, introduced invasive species and over-collection by humans are all threats causing a decline in amphibian populations. Also of major concern is fungal disease, or the Chytrid fungus which infects many amphibians and is causing rapid decline and even extinction of some species.
Many conservation groups are working diligently to protect amphibian species with scientific research, habitat preservation, education and lobbying for supportive legislation.
The following photos are some of the amphibians who serve as Animal Ambassadors in our outreach programming, and some we photographed in the wild. At Animal Embassy, we endeavor to help people of all ages understand how important it is to appreciate, respect and protect wildlife. Just like we are important to our community, every animal serves a purpose in their habitat.
Below, one of our young African Bullfrogs. As you may see, this beautiful creature was born with a small mouth defect, making eating a challenge. We watch him carefully and his eating has improved. He is doing well!
The Axolotl is unusual among amphibians in that it reaches adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. Rather than developing lungs and taking to land, the adults remain aquatic and gilled.
Below: Gray Tree Frog.
Below: White's Tree Frogs. This frog can vary in color as you'll see in the following two photos.
Below, Red Eyed Tree Frogs
Below, a Vernal Pool. This temporary wetland is where the lives of many amphibians begin.
Wood Frog Eggs in a Vernal Pool.
Red Eft, juvenile form of the Eastern Newt