Physical adaptations of frogs

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Physical adaptations of frogs
Frogs can see well in the dark due to the way their eyes adapted. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Frogs are carnivorous amphibians. Adult frogs are effectively terrestrial and can breathe air, while their young are aquatic and possess gills. Frogs need to keep their skins moist and are found in habitats which allow for this important requirement. Many frog species are vividly coloured and the vast majority are under threat due to habitat destruction, poaching and a virulent chytrid fungal infection.

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The normally colourful and bulging eyes of a frog are located on top of its head. From this vantage point, the eyes have a wide angled field of vision and the frog is able to see not only to the front and sides, but partially to the rear, as well. The frog is also able to remain mostly submerged, while still being able to detect predators and to search for insects and other prey items above the water surface. The frog's eye is designed to see under water as well and is particularly sensitive to movement. Frogs possess superb night vision and can correctly detect the velocity of an object. The eyes of a frog are pulled into the roof of its mouth as it swallows. In this way, they assist in pushing the amphibian's meal into its throat.


This long taste organ is also used to capture prey items. Unlike that of other animals, the tongue of some frogs is attached near the front of mouth. This positioning of the tongue allows for its entire length to be used when capturing prey. The tongue is flicked out with both speed and accuracy and hits the prey, which adheres to its sticky surface. The tongue is then flicked back into the mouth. Mucous glands in the frog's mouth produce the sticky substance which coats its tongue. In a number of frog species, the tongue is positioned further back in the mouth and lies folded on the bottom jaw.


The skin of frogs are amphibians do not comprise scales. The majority of frogs absorb water through their delicate skin as they swim or rest in pools keeping them hydrated so they have no need to drink. Frogs are also able to absorb moisture from damp soil. These amphibians breathe through their permeable skin, which needs to be kept moist at all times. A number of frog species secrete mucus which lubricates their skin and prevents it from drying out. Frogs shed their skin on a regular basis and the old skin is invariably eaten. Patterns and colours on the frog's skin not only help to camouflage the frog, but warns predators of the toxic nature of some frogs.


The family of frogs comprise aquatic, ground-dwelling, tree-dwelling or arboreal and burrowing species. Each group of frogs has a different leg structure to best suit its specific lifestyle. Burrowing frogs possess short, muscular hind legs that are adapted for digging in soil, while arboreal frogs have adhesive pads on the under surface of their fingers and toes. These pads assist the frog to cling to surface high above the ground. Arboreal species also possess hip joints that allow them to walk and crawl, as opposed hopping. Ground-dwelling frogs have limbs that are adapted for jumping and aquatic species possess legs that are designed for movement through water.

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