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The respiratory system of all animals is that

which allows oxygen to pass from the
surrounding air or water into the bloodstream of
the organism. In addition to this, the system is
required to remove carbon dioxide from the
blood and release it into the air or water.
Amphibians have three types of highly
vascularized that are able to be used in
respiration. They are :
Buccopharyngeal mucosa (the mouth and throat

Amphibians have external gills which are capable of

performing the functions of respiration while the animal is
under water. In frogs, the gills are present only during the
tadpole stage, when the individual is confined to the
water. As the tadpole transforms into an adult frog, its
gills are absorbed into the body and the lungs take over
for the process of respiration.
The lungs of amphibians that are required to take over
for the gills after metamorphosis are generally already
developed before the gills are reabsorbed. They are
relatively simple in structure, resembling smooth sacs.
The lungs of more terrestrial amphibians, such as the
toad, are larger and are equiped with more alveolar
respiratory surfaces.

As was mentioned above in the description of

amphibian skin, the dermal region is very heavily
vascularized to allow for efficient exchange of
gases. When the adult amphibian is under water,
it will breathe through its skin until it is able to
come up to the surface for air.
Many male amphibians have vocal sacs which
are basically outpouchings of the mouth cavity
that extend ventrally and laterally under the skin
and muscles of the throat. When a frog calls, its
pouch is filled with air and the function is to
assist in the resonation of the sound. Individual
frogs also seem to be able to vary the sound of
their call by adjusting the action of their vocal

Larval amphibians respire, or exchange carbon

dioxide and oxygen, through their gills and skin.
Most adult amphibians lose their gills during
metamorphosis, but they can respire in two
ways: through the lungs and through the skin.
Respiration through the lungs is called
pulmonary respiration. Amphibians ventilate
their lungs with a unique mechanism that pumps
air into the lungs; this is called positive-pressure
breathing. For example, a frog breathes by
changing the volume and pressure of air in its
mouth while either opening or closing its

Both inhalation and

exhalation involve a twostep process during which
the floor of the frog's mouth
is raised and lowered. The
frog controls the direction of
air flow by opening or
closing its nostrils. Because
amphibians have a small
surface area in the lungs for
gas exchange, respiration is
very important to most
aquatic and terrestrial


All reptiles possess lungs, and none passes through an
aquatic larval stage with gills, as do many of the
amphibians. In snakes, presumably as an adaptation to
their long, thin bodies, the left lung is reduced in size or
entirely lacking. Although lungs are the primary means of
respiration in all reptiles and the only means of
respiration in most reptiles, a number of species are also
able to utilize other parts of the body for the absorption
of oxygen and the elimination of carbon dioxide. In
aquatic turtles, for example, the tissues (mucous
membranes) lining the insides of the mouth are capable
of extracting oxygen from the water; some file snakes,
family Acrochordidae, and sea snakes, family
Hydrophiidae, as well as the soft-shelled turtle, Trionyx,
can use their skin for respiration when submerged.

The lungs of reptiles are large, and they are

often divided internally into several chambers.
The lining of the lungs may be folded into
numerous small sacs called alveoli. Alveoli
greatly increase the internal surface area of the
lungs, thus increasing the amount of oxygen that
can be absorbed. In most snakes, only the right
lung actively functions. It is elongated and may
be half as long as the body. The left lung is
either reduced to a small nonfunctional sac or
absent entirely.

A reptile fills its lungs

be expanding its rib
cage. This expansion
reduces the pressure
within the thorax and
draws air into the lungs.
When the ribs return to
their resting position,
pressure within the thorax
increases and air is
forced out of the LUNGS.