14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration)

The Animals breathing through the skin (Skin respiration) Are all those animals that have the ability to perform their respiratory process cutaneously.

Among this group are amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders), annelids (earthworm) and some echinoderms (sea urchin). However, some fish, snakes, Turtles And lizards use their skin as a respiratory organ to a greater or lesser degree.

Examples of animals breathing through the skin

The skin of these animals is moist, fairly thin and highly vascularized in their inner layers. These characteristics are fundamental in this type of animals to allow the respiratory process through this organ.

In addition, most animals with this type of respiration have lungs or gills that provide them with an alternate surface for gas exchange and supplement the Cutaneous respiration .

In fact, only certain types of salamanders, which have neither lungs nor gills, survive exclusively with cutaneous respiration. You may also like to know How do the animals that live underwater manage to breathe?

14 examples of animals breathing through the skin


1- Earthworm

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration)

The earthworm is an animal that belongs to the family of annelids. They get this name because of the distinctive feature of their body being divided into segments similar to rings.

To feed, he makes tunnels on the ground. By doing this it passes organic material through your digestive tract and then removes waste in the form of excrement. This constant activity of the earthworm allows to soften, enrich and aerate the soil.

This animal lacks special respiratory organs, reason why its process of respiration realize it through simple diffusion through its skin.

2- Leech

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 1

The leech is a flat-bodied animal that has suckers at each end of its body. Most species of this animal feed on blood sucking from other organisms.

They breathe through their skin though in some families ( Piscicolidea ) Of these annelids is observed the presence of small gills similar to lateral branches in his body.

In families Gnatobdelidas Y Faringobdelidas The presence of a red pigment known as extracellular hemoglobin, which carries 50% of the oxygen absorbed by these animals, is also observed.

3- Korean worm or nereis

The Korean worm or nereis is a marine worm pertaining to the family of annelids, specifically to the class of polychaetes. Its body is elongated, semi-cylindrical and with segments in the form of rings. It has four eyes and powerful jaws like pincers that serve to catch its prey.

The nereis lacks specialized respiratory organs. Therefore, it breathes through the entire surface of your body, but more specifically through the flat and thin appendages that laterally border your body.


4- Ajolote

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 2

The ajolote or axolotl is a type of amphibian salamander that is found almost exclusively in the region of the Mexico's valley , Specifically in the channel system of Xochimilco. Although there are also some species in North America.

Like most salamanders, it has the appearance of a lizard. Its skin is smooth, glandular and moist. They are of different colors (coffee, black, green, with spots, yellow).

Some specimens have been found pink and completely white (albino albino). Perform your breathing process in three ways: gills, lungs and skin.

5- Frogs

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 3

Frogs belong to the group of amphibians known as anurans. They are animals that undergo a process of metamorphosis from birth to adulthood.

In their early stages of development, they are known as tadpoles and live exclusively in aqueous environments. At this stage, his respiration is gill and cutaneous.

Pulmonary and cutaneous respiration is present in adult animals. The two types of breathing alternate according to the time of year. For example, during the winter, oxygen requirements are lower, therefore, the greater uptake is done through the skin.

In contrast, during the summer, the demand for oxygen is greater and the uptake is done mainly through the lungs. However, the two forms of breathing work alternately to a greater or lesser extent.

6- Cecilia

The cecilia is an amphibian without limbs (apodus) in the shape of a worm. Some have no tail and others have a rudimentary. Some cecilia have rudimentary lungs that complement breathing through the skin.

Recently, however, species have been discovered that are completely devoid of lungs and whose respiration is totally cutaneous. Cecilia live in moist tropical areas and in aqueous media.

7- Jalapa tritón false

The jalapa tritón false is a type of salamander that belongs to the group of salamanders without lungs. His body is elongated, has bulging eyes and a long tail. For lack of lungs his breathing is completely cutaneous.

8- Frogs

Toad.  An example of an animal with skin breathing.

Toads, like frogs, belong to the group of anurans. They differ from these in terms of size, leg length, skin texture (rough on toads, smooth on frogs) and on how they move (frogs do so by making long leaps, toads do so by giving Small jumps or walking).

Toads also present the same types of frog breathing throughout their development. However, in their adult state, and because their skin is drier, they depend to a greater extent on lung breathing.

9- Triton

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration)

The newts are amphibians belonging to the same family of salamanders. Their body is thin and elongated and have short legs. Its tail is long and flat.

They tend to be smaller than salamanders and unlike them they spend most of their life in the water. Like most amphibians they perform much of their breathing through the skin.


10- Sea urchins

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 4

Sea urchins are a class that belongs to the family of echinoderms. They are generally balloon shaped and lack extremities. Its inner skeleton is covered only by the epidermis.

They have around their whole body movable prongs, which allow them to move and give them a method of defense against predators. It presents two types of respiration: gill and cutaneous.

11- Sea cucumber

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 5

The sea cucumber belongs to the family of echinoderms. Its body is elongated and soft, similar to that of a worm and lacks limbs. It has the mouth in the anterior part and the orifice of the anus in the back.

Their size varies from a few millimeters to several meters. Several species have branched tubes close to the anus that serve to breathe, but also breathe through their skin.

12- Comátula Mediterránea

These animals belong to the species known as sea lilies and are part of the family of echinoderms. Its body is shaped like a chalice, from which 5 arms are projected which in turn present smaller bifurcations.

The breathing process occurs by the contact of the tegument with the aqueous medium, mainly by the wave movement of the ambulactario channel.

13- Ofiura

They are a class of animals belonging to the family of echinoderms. Its body is formed by a rounded and flattened central structure from which emerge very slender and long arms that have small ramifications. To move, it uses its arms moving them in wave form like serpents.

Like other echinoderms, they have incipient respiratory systems and most of the gas exchange occurs through skin respiration.

14- Cigarette case

It is a type of sea urchin. His body is covered by a shell of calcareous layers. Through the pores of the carapace protrude thin filaments (known as barbs) that serve to move and protect themselves. Has blemish and cutaneous respiration.

Reptiles and Mammals with Skin Respiration

14 Animals That Breathe Through Skin (Skin Respiration) 6

In some reptiles, a degree of gaseous intersubjective exchange can be seen, although this does not indicate that they are animals with cutaneous respiration. It is simply that, under certain circumstances, for some animal species skin breathing is an alternative for gas exchange.

Some of these reptiles are the marine snake (releases about 40% of carbon dioxide through the skin), the musk turtle (captures about 35% oxygen and releases 25% carbon dioxide cutaneously), the green lizard (20% oxygen and 15% carbon dioxide through the skin) and the Japanese tortoise (15% oxygen and 10% carbon dioxide through the skin), among others.

Likewise, it has been found that even in some mammals, the cutaneous gas exchange contributes considerable values ​​to the gas exchange rate necessary for the subsistence of the animal.

An example of this is found in the brown bat that obtains approximately 13% of its oxygen requirement through its skin and eliminates about 5% of the carbon dioxide by this same means.

Some Facts About Skin Breathing

The cutaneous respiratory process is carried out through the body integument that is the organ that covers externally to the multicellular organisms (formed by the skin and the skin or skin attachments).

For this process to occur, it is necessary that the cuticle of the epidermis (which is the outermost layer of the skin) is moist and rather thin.

The skin moisture is achieved by the presence of glandular cells that are intercalated between the cubic cells of the epithelium. These cells produce a mucus that covers the entire skin and gives it the moisture necessary for gas exchange.

Another important characteristic that facilitates this type of breathing is the presence under the epidermis of abundant blood capillaries that contribute to the gas exchange.

The process begins with the uptake of oxygen by diffusion through the skin. From there it passes to the blood vessels and through the blood reaches the cells where a new gaseous exchange is carried out by diffusion.

Blood collects the carbon dioxide gas that is released into the environment again through the skin. This completes the respiratory cycle. In essence, the process is similar to that of other animals with more complex respiratory systems.

Animals with skin breathing live in watery habitats or in moist soils, allowing them to keep their skin lubricated, a condition that is fundamental to the respiratory process.


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