Are Snakes Reptiles or Amphibians? Let’s Get Your Queries Cleared

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Are snakes reptiles or amphibians?

Snakes are reptiles and not amphibians. It’s because amphibians use their moist skin along with their simple lungs to breathe, while on the other hand, snakes only use their lungs to breathe and not their skin. Snakes have dry skin like other reptiles, while all amphibians make moist skin.

Unlike amphibians, snakes’ skin is dry, and rough, without any glands to secrete water mucus.

And like all other reptiles, snakes do have a dry scaly skin, and this is not possible with amphibians as they will strictly need moist skin secreting mucus in order to breathe and respire.

Amphibians’ skin must always be moist. But here in the case of snakes, skin is dry with the presence of numerous rows of scales making the skin watertight. Exposed external body parts of snakes are covered by bony scutes.

It is also to be noted that most amphibians live part of their lives underwater and part on land. They need water during their initial stages of development i.e. mostly during the tadpole stage.

While the most known species of snakes are reptiles as they spend a majority of their life on land, except for the water snakes that can live part of their lives underwater and part on land depending on the environmental conditions.

And, unlike amphibians, it is not always mandatory for the baby snakes, depending on the species and the environmental conditions, to live inside water during their initial life stages soon after hatching from the eggs.


Why are snakes considered reptiles?

Snakes are reptiles because they breathe using their lungs and not through their skin. Their skin is dry and scaly and lacks any mucus-secreting skin glands.

Amphibians use both their lungs and skin to breathe. Like for example both frogs (amphibians) and snakes (reptiles) have a pair of nostrils, and a mouth to take in air to breathe, and they also use them to smell while they are on land.

Snake’s body is divided into head, neck, trunk, and tail. Snake has a three-chambered heart, along with being a cold-blooded animal.

Amphibians have a dicondylic skull. But in reptiles like snakes, the skull is monocondylic.

Snakes being reptiles don’t have limbs which is an exception of the tetrapodus (2 pairs) pentadactyle type of limbs in reptiles.

Snakes don’t have a lateral line system. It is totally absent in them. This lateral line system is a system of tactile sense organs, that aid in the detection of water movements and pressure changes in the surrounding water.

Snakes are oviparous (egg-laying) animals, and their eggs are very yolky, generally oblong-shaped, and with leathery-soft shells.

Snakes like other reptiles lay their eggs underground in loose soil or in sand or in burrows, which acts as a natural incubator. On the other hand, amphibians lay eggs in jelly-like masses in underwater locations as the eggs lack any kind of a protective layer.

Are any snakes amphibians?

All snakes are reptiles. No snakes on planet earth are amphibians.

Under the Animal Kingdom, Snakes are classified under:

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Group: Craniata (Higher Chordata)
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Division: Gnathostomata
  • Superclass: Tetrapoda
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Subclass: Diapsida
  • Superorder: Lepidosauria
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Ophidia (Serpentes)

This reptilian classification clearly shows that snakes are reptiles and not amphibians because they fall under the Class Reptilia of the Animal Kingdom that includes all the reptiles.

And that under the Class Reptilia of the Animal Kingdom they fall under the Order Squamata and Suborder Ophidia (Serpentes) that includes all kinds of snakes.

It is here to be noted that there are more than 3000 known species of snakes, and they are all strictly limbless reptiles that belong to the Suborder Ophidia (Serpentes).

It is also to be noted here that under the Suborder Ophidia a group of squamate reptiles comes in that includes all types of modern snakes and all types of reptiles that are more closely related to snakes than to other living groups of lizards or other living reptiles.

On the other hand, under Animal Kingdom, all Amphibians are classified under:

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Group: Craniata (Higher Chordata)
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Division: Gnathostomata
  • Superclass: Tetrapoda
  • Class: Amphibia

This amphibian classification clearly indicates that both amphibians and reptiles fall under the Superclass Tetrapoda.

But under further divisions of the Superclass Tetrapoda, both seem to fall under two different classes of the Animal Kingdom with reptiles like snakes falling under the Class Reptilia division and the amphibians falling under the Class Amphibia division.

And moreover, amphibians are the evolutionary ancestors of reptiles. Various researches have stated that Reptiles arose from amphibians in the swamps about 310–320 million years ago during the Carboniferous period due to the various increasing evolutionary pressures on the various ecosystems.

What actually are reptiles?

Reptiles are all those 7000+ animals that fall under the Class Reptilia of the Animal Kingdom and are cold-blooded, having a backbone (vertebrates), dry skin with many scales a three chambered heart with a right and left aortic arch.

Reptiles are with a single occipital condyle (rounded projection or knobs located at the base of the skull which articulates with the first vertebra).

They breathe through their mouth and nostrils using their lungs. So, they follow pulmonary respiration.

They are cold-blooded terrestrial or aquatic air-breathing animals. Their body is well divided into head, neck, trunk, and tail, and covered with horny scales or scutes.

Moreover, their skin is dry, cornified, and rough, without any glands. The structural and systemic pattern of their body scales varies from species to species.

They are also known to shed their scales and skin at regular intervals. This is known as the molting of skin and it helps in replacement of old skin to new one while allowing the reptile to grow.

The lateral line system is absent in reptiles. It is also to be noted that except for snakes, all the reptiles have well-developed ears.

Reptiles follow direct development. This means that the young ones of reptilian species are hatched from the eggs looking like a miniature version of their adult parents.

Examples: Lizards, Snakes, Crocodiles, Alligators, etc.

What actually are Amphibians?

Amphibinas include more than 3000 known species that are aquatic (freshwater) living or semiaquatic (living partly on land and partly in water). They are both air and water breathing animals, carnivorous in nature, cold-blooded, and oviparous vertebrates.

Their body is divided into head and long trunk. Neck and Tail may be absent or present depmdong on the species type.

Unlike reptiles, their skin don’t have any kind of scales, and that their skin is smooth and rough and with various skin glands that make it moist by secreting jelly-like mucus.

If scales are present, then these will likely be hidden under the skin. And their endoskeleton is bony in nature. Their skull have two occipital condyles.

They perform respiration by using their lungs, skin, and buccal cavity lining. In many of the amphibians, gills are only present during their early stages of development, while in a few, gills remain present throughout their life.

Their embryonic development is indirect. Meaning that their embryo hatches from the jelly-like egg in a larval form which later undergoes a process of metamorphosis to become its adult mature form.

They breed only in water. And also that the copulatory organs are absent in males.

Examples: Frogs, Salamanders, Amphiuma, Axolotl, Tortoise, Turtle, etc.

What is the difference between amphibians and reptiles?

10 key differences between Amphibians and Reptiles are mentioned below:

1.They respire using lungs only.They respire using gills, lungs, skin, and buccal cavity lining.
2.They have 12 pairs of cranial nerves.They have 10 pairs of cranial nerves.
3.Brain is developed as compared to the amphibians.
Notably, the cerebrum of brain is well-developed than that of the amphibians.
Brain is not well-developed.
4.Embryoinic developement is direct.Embryoinic developement is indirect.
5.Skin is dry cornified without skin glands.Skin is moist in mucus with skin glands.
6.Body divided into: Head, Neck, Trunk, and TailBody divided into: Head, and a long Trunk.
Neck and Tail may or may not be present.
7.Scales present.Scales absent. And if present, are hidden under the skin.
8.Lateral line is present throughout the life.Lateral line is present only during some stages of life.
9.A single occipital condyle is present.Two occipital condyles are present.
10.Heart is 3 chambered. However, crocodiles have a 4 chambered heart.Heart is 3 chambered.

CONCLUSION: After going through the whole post, it is very much clear-cut that snakes are not amphibians but reptiles.

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