Difference between Reptiles and Amphibians

What are Reptiles?

The term reptile originated from Latin “repere”. It meant “to crawl”, which is a defining aspect of reptiles. Those are members of Class Reptilia which are cold-blooded animals. Moreover, it has four orders –

  1. Crocodilia 

      Example – crocodile, alligator

  1. Squamata 

      Example – lizard, snake

  1. Testudines 

      Example – turtle, tortoise

  1. Sphenodontia 

       Example – tuataras

Characteristics of Reptiles

The main characteristics are –

  • Prefers to live in warm habitats 

  • Presence of nasal slits and Jacobson’s organ (except in crocodile and turtle)

  • Body covered by scales 

Note that main difference between mammals and reptiles can be seen in body covering. Presence of body hair is defining characteristics of mammals whereas reptiles have keratin epidermal layer called scales. Consequently, mammals have sweat glands which are not present in reptiles. 

What are Amphibians?

Amphibians are members of Class Amphibia which live both on land and water. Furthermore, it primarily comprises three orders –

  1. Anura 

      Example – frog

  1. Urodela 

      Example – salamander

  1. Apoda 

       Example – caecillians

Characteristics of Amphibians 

The main characteristics are –

  • Amphibians cannot regulate body temperature 

  • Existence of larval stage that starts after eggs are hatched

  • They can live both in land and water. Hence, amphibians can breathe both through gills and lungs 

Fun Facts!

While reproduction of any living being is a natural course, in case of reptiles it is dependent in temperature to a large extent. In addition, most of the reptiles lay eggs except pythons and boas which give birth to young ones. 

Moreover, it is the soil temperature that determines whether the new hatchling will be male or female!

Read on to know what is the difference between amphibians and reptiles

It is considered that reptiles primarily originated from amphibians, environmental factors led to the evolution of the former species. Thereby, the unique features apparent in amphibians and reptiles difference helped to ensure survival of these species. 

Difference between Amphibians and Reptiles





Can breathe through lungs and gills 

Can breathe only through lungs 


Larval stage takes place in an aquatic environment, and on development it becomes terrestrial 

Mostly live on land, but exceptions are present, such as snakes, of which some species live underwater as well

Circulatory system 

Heart is 3-chambered 

Heart is 3-chambered with a partial septum separating the ventricle 

Body sheath 

Moist and smooth sheath covered by sticky mucus 

Scales or Scutes made up of Keratin cover the body

Fertilisation mode 

Exhibits external mode of fertilisation 

Exhibits internal mode of fertilisation 


Displays ovoviviparity where embryos within eggs remain in mother’s body till hatching

Displays oviparity where amniotic eggs has hard shell protects the embryo

Similarities between Amphibians and Reptiles 

Even though there are difference between amphibians and reptiles in points, owing to amphibians previously zoologically classified as reptiles leads to similarities shared by the species. Both belong to phylum Chordata and subphylum Vertebrata. 

  • Body metabolism is ectothermic, that is, body temperature changes corresponding to extraneous factors 

  • Omnivorous eating habit

  • Presence of cloaca as the common outlet for intestinal, urinary and genital functions 

  • Reflex spinal segments help in locomotion 

Test Your Knowledge

i. Reptile eggs are also -

(a) Waterless 

(b) Amniotic

(c) Prehistoric

(d) Gigantor

ii. Tail-less amphibian found under which order?

(a) Order Anura 

(b) Order Caudata 

(c) Order Gymnophiona 

(d) Both under order Gymnophiona and order Caudata

[Refer to the answers provided at the end of the article]

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the major aspects to differentiate between amphibians and reptiles?

The major difference between amphibians and reptiles are – amphibians can breathe both through lungs and gills and exhibits external fertilisation, whereas reptiles can only breathe through lungs and reproduce through internal fertilisation.

2. Mention similarities between reptiles and amphibians.

Despite difference between amphibians and reptiles, those regulate their body temperature. Moreover, cloaca is present, and acts as a common passage for a genital, intestinal and urinary outlet.

3. What is the reason for reptiles and amphibians sharing similar characteristics?

The common physiological and anatomical features about reptiles and amphibians arise from the phylum and subphylum shared by them. Nevertheless, before present taxonomy was put in place, reptile and amphibians belonged to the same group.  


i. (b) Amniotic

ii. (a) Order Anura