14 Difference Between Reptiles and Amphibians (You Need To Know)

We come across amphibians and reptiles throughout history, and they both have very similar characteristics that give us some confusion.

But, once we start looking at the main and special characteristics in this article that differentiate them from one another, we can easily determine the animal as an amphibian or a reptile.

What are Amphibians? Amphibians are the animals that are capable of living in both water and land, as they could breathe in water using their skin or gills and on land and are cold-blooded animals.

What are Reptiles? The reptiles are the tetrapods that can creep, burrow on land having scales without glands on their skin and are found in terrestrial habitats. 

Difference between Amphibians and Reptiles 

Using the reference of the following table we are able to easily identify the difference between amphibians and reptiles.

Gas exchanges throughSkin or Gills Nostrils and lungs
Water requirement for fertilizationRequiredNot required
Oviparous / ViviparousOviparousOviparous or Viviparous 
Egg protecting coverGel like substanceHard substance
Reproduction productEggsEggs(house lizard) or young ones(skinks)
Swimming organWebbed feetLimbs
ExamplesFrogs, salamanderLizards, crocodile, tortoise


Where do they live?

The Amphibians live on land as well as in water, whereas the reptiles live on land. We have studied and of course we observed that the amphibians are usually present in water rich environments while the reptiles are observed in less or no water environments. 

However, Amphibians can live with less or no water region but some part of their life cycle requires water, especially during breeding, and in fertilization time as the water acts as a medium for transfer and fusion of male and female gametes which after becomes eggs or simply the embryo that capable of developing into the adult.

On the other hand, Reptiles do not need water at all during their life cycle except for drinking water during breeding and even during fertilisation because their fertilisation is internal, meaning that the male and female gametes are transferred and fused within or inside the reptiles bodies, rather than outside, as in amphibians.

Type of Fertilization: 

Where do male and female gametes meet each other ?

In Amphibians the fertilization occurs in an external medium that is usually in the water, Whereas, the fertilization in reptiles takes place internally with the help of special organs from both male and female reptiles, those organs enable them to transfer male gametes into the female body where gametes are fused internally so this is called as internal fertilization. This internal fertilization leads to egg or embryo.

Note: The eggs of  amphibians undergo many developmental stages such as larvae, for example Tadpole larvae in case of frogs, to reach fully adult and at adult stage they look like parent amphibians.

Oviparous and Viviparous: 

Development of a baby is inside or outside the body of their parent

The Amphibians are oviparous since their young ones or babies develop outside the body of their parents, whereas in reptiles the baby or young development will take place in some inside the body and in most reptiles outside the body of the reptiles thus some of the reptiles are considered as the viviparous and some as oviparous.  

The eggs laid by the reptiles can be rigid, like in case of the crocodiles, tortoises, and in some cases the eggs can be leathery like in case of snakes and lizards, However, some reptiles give birth to young ones like in case of skinks.


How many chambers are present in a heart?

Both Amphibians and reptiles have three chambered hearts, However, in reptiles the ventricles are further divided through a septum. The amphibians have a three chambered heart in which two chambers form atria, remaining one chamber is responsible for ventricle. 

Did you know?  The heart of the fishes have two chambers in which one is responsible for atria and the remaining one is meant for ventricle. Can you guess the number of chambers present in the human? There are four chambers present in a human heart.

Egg cover: 

How does an embryo protected inside the eggs? The amphibians eggs are covered with gel, whereas in reptiles the eggs are covered by a hard protective substance.


What roles do the skin play? The skin of amphibians is smooth, slippery with relatively more porous, that is even helpful for gaseous exchanges in water, whereas in reptiles the skin is dry, hard and scaly that avoids the loss of moisture from the body.

The wet skin of the amphibians enable them to absorb oxygen from the water and also remove unwanted gases as well. They can use their gill like a fish to absorb and release the gases when they are living in water.


What organs are in control of exchanging gases with their surroundings? Amphibians can breathe through gills in water and through lungs on land, whereas the reptiles are known to breathe through the lungs only.


How many colors can they see? Amphibians have narrow spectrum visibility which means they have less efficient light detection, whereas the reptiles have broad spectrum visibility that enable them to detect a wide range of colors. Thus the reptiles are able to adopt on lands more successfully than amphibians.

Stages of development: 

Where do larval and adult stages occur? Both the larval stage and the adult stages are present in both the amphibians and reptiles, However, In amphibians the larval stage and adult stages of developments occur in water, whereas in the reptiles, these larval and adult development occur on land. 

Protection against predators: 

How do they escape from predators? To protect themselves from predators amphibians secrete toxins from their skin, whereas the reptiles secrete toxins from teeth, nails and even through their eyes too.


What helps them to move from one place to another? For swimming, Amphibians have webbed feet, whereas the reptiles have the limbs to swim , and also to run. However, amphibians, for example frogs, can swim and jump(a form of running) on land.


What causes the confusion while distinguishing them? The similarities between Amphibians and Reptiles that confuse us to differentiate them are as follows.


Both Amphibians and Reptiles are ectotherms, or ectothermic animals, which means they are unable to control their body temperature regardless of environmental temperature changes (habitat: the place where they live), For example, if the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere increases, the temperature of ectothermic animals (in this case, amphibians and reptiles) rises as well.

Both Amphibians and Reptiles are veritable animals , which means they have backbones giving them solid shape and strength. When we have to distinguish them using their bones it’s harder to identify them as amphibians or reptiles because both of them have backbones.

Both Amphibians and Reptiles are Tetrapods, which means they have four legs, two fore limbs and two hind limbs. Some reptiles do not have legs or limbs at all, Let me give some of the best examples, that is snakes. So possessing legs does not make sure it should be reptile, exceptions are also present in everything and here in this case in reptiles too. 

Snakes are considered as reptiles even though they did not have the limbs like the most of the reptile because snakes are expected to evolve from reptiles.


What is the smallest reptile? The Nano-chameleons is the smallest reptile among 11,500 species of reptiles. This Nano-chameleon  is only 13.5 mm long.

What is the biggest reptile? The saltwater crocodile is considered as the biggest reptile, which can grow as long as 23 feet in length, and weighs about 1000 Kg. 

What is unique about amphibians? Amphibians are vertebrates that need water to survive as they evolved to breathe in the water through their skin and require water in part of their life cycle especially during breeding periods. The examples of amphibians can be frogs, toads, and salamanders.