Link #17: Frogs Use Their Skin to Breathe and to Drink Water!


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Link #17: Frogs Use Their Skin to Breathe and to Drink Water!

Northern Leopard frog
Skin Breather by Derek Gavey cc2.0

We spoke about how overconsumption of water and a series of poor decisions in history is the reason why Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is sinking by more than 30 feet (9 meters) every century. This is just more proof of how virtually everything on planet Earth is connected to or revolves around water somehow.

Every animal uses water to survive, even frogs, despite the fact that they can’t actually drink water but have to absorb it through their skin. An even more important function of a frog’s skin is breathing. That’s right. Frogs rely on their skin to breathe in oxygen. In fact, the skin is extremely important for a frog. Here’s why.

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Can’t Frogs Drink Water Like We Do?

Frog at the Pond
Frog at the Pond by Noël Zia Lee cc2.0

It’s possible that you, like everyone else, think that drinking water means swallowing it through your mouth and gulping it down your throat. However, the world’s a different place for a frog. A frog actually absorbs the water it needs through its skin.

While a frog gains water via its skin, it’s also easy for a frog to lose moisture through its skin. This is precisely why frogs tend to stay near sources of water. Typically, you’ll find frogs living near ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.

If a frog gets too far from a good source of water, then it can die when its skin starts drying. However, frogs have an emergency solution for this too. In fact, they have two!

Frogs can use dew to moisten their skin. If they can’t get access to dew, they can burrow into the earth to absorb water from the moist soil.

When Do Frogs Use Their Skin to Breathe?

Photo taken by Benjamin Dobson cc2.0

Typically, when frogs are underwater they use their skin to breathe (to take in the oxygen they need to survive). However, this doesn’t mean that frogs don’t have lungs. They do, and they use them when they’re outside water.

However, while frogs can breathe air through their lungs, they rely on their skin for the same purpose too. This means that a frog will suffocate if it can’t support its lung-based breathing with its skin-based breathing while outside water.

There is a key connection between the frog using its skin to drink water and to breathe air. Frogs need to be near water because they need to keep their skin moist. They do this to be able to drink water but they do this for another reason.

If a frog’s skin is not moist, then it will not be able to breathe through its skin and will die of suffocation. The reason for this is that if its skin is not moist, then oxygen will not be able to pass through.

Why Else Is a Frog’s Skin Interesting?

Rana pipiens (Northern leopard frog)
A leopard frog moulting and eating the skin. Mokele cc3.0

There’s even more to frogs’ skin than the fact that they use it to breathe oxygen and drink water. This is the fact that frogs shed their skin at regular intervals. They twist, turn and bend over to loosen their skin and then they shed it. What do they do with their shed skin afterward? Why, they eat it for the nutrients it contains!

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