otters, animals that live on land and in water

Based on their living habitat, animals can be classified into five different kinds.

Terrestrial – animals which live on land. Aerial – animals that can fly and spend most of their lives in the air. Arboreal – kinds of animals that live on trees. Aquatic – animals who live in water. Semi-Aquatic – animals that live on land and water.

Today, we are going to talk about animals that live partly on land and partly in the water, which are known in biology as semi-aquatic.

Amphibians are the most known class of animals that live on land and water. However, besides amphibians, many other animals can live on both mediums.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 17 amazing animals that live in water and on land.

Animals That Live on Land and Water

  • Ducks
  • Beavers
  • Geese
  • Platypuses
  • Frogs
  • North American River Otters
  • Crabs
  • Walruses
  • Penguins
  • Swans
  • American Alligators
  • Salamanders
  • Capybaras
  • Hippos
  • Polar Bears
  • Spotted Turtles
  • Lungfish

Ducks

one duck walking on land and two ducks swimming in the water

Scientific Name – Anatidae

Diet – Omnivore

Because of the habitats in which they live, ducks are also referred to as waterfowl. They are usually found near lakes, rivers, and ponds, where they feed on various aquatic plants and invertebrates.

However, even though they spend most of their time in the water, ducks go on land for a few reasons.

First and foremost, ducks prefer making nests on dry ground near water. When they are onshore, ducks also feed on insects and land plants.

So, despite being classified as water birds, ducks often go on the land, which is almost as much their home as water.

Beavers

brown beaver swimming in the water

Scientific Name – Castor

Diet – Herbivore

Beavers are semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit ponds, lakes, and rivers throughout the United States. They are true vegetarians, and their diet is based on fruit, woody plants, water scum, and other vegetation.

These rodents enjoy swimming and bathing, but more importantly, they need water to survive. Once these nature architects build a dam, they rarely travel far on the land.

Beavers are much more suited for the water habitat, as they move slowly on land, and there is always a potential danger from various predators.

As a result, they’ll remain very close to the water, and if there is no overriding need, it will not even come out of it.

Read Also: Animals With Big Ears

Geese

group of geese on land and in water

Scientific Name – Anser

Diet – Herbivore

Geese are kinds of birds that live in and around freshwater areas. For the majority of their lives, geese are found in the water.

Outside of the water, many sneaky predators wait for the perfect opportunity to attack. Geese are proficient swimmers, so they find safety against potential enemies in the water.

However, they usually gather and eat aquatic plants while they are on the land. Apart from feeding, geese commonly go on land to nest, yet, unlike ducks, geese build nests on elevated areas.

So, even though they are categorized as aquatic creatures, geese are animals that live on land and water.

Platypuses

a black platypus swimming in shallow water

Scientific Name – Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Diet – Carnivore

Platypuses are semi-aquatic mammals that make their homes in the streams and rivers. These unique creatures are only found in eastern Australia and Tasmania.

They are animals with webbed feet who utilize their swimming abilities to hunt underwater. Worms, larvae, and shrimps are their go-to food. They are known to hunt up to 12 hours per day.

Platypuses seldom go on land, as they burn 30 percent more energy across the land. As a result, they’ll only go outside the water to rest and sleep in their burrows.

Frogs

green frog swimming in a blue water

Scientific Name – Anura

Diet – Carnivore

The frog is a kind of animal that lives on land for most of its time. However, as a member of the amphibian family, frogs need moisture environments in order to survive.

In case frogs stay on land for too long, they’ll skin dries out, and they’ll die. So, they usually occupy land habitats near swamps and ponds so that they can pounce in the water quickly if needed.

What’s interesting about these slimy creatures is that they do not drink water, instead, they hydrate themselves through the skin.

Despite being excellent swimmers and fast hopping animals, frogs are vulnerable to many wildlife, both in water and on land.

North American River Otters

river otter eating fish in a shallow water

Scientific Name – Lontra canadensis

Diet – Carnivore

River otters live thought North America, usually populating streams, rivers, ponds, and other water environments. These semi-aquatic mammals are at home equally on land and in the water.

However, they’ll spend most of their daytime in or underwater. River otters are great gourmands. A typical day of a river otter requires 6-9 hours of hunting.

In other words, they eat about 20% of their total weight each day. River otters mainly eat fish. Smaller prey is eaten directly in the water, while the large catch is usually consumed on the shore.

Though they are excellent swimmers, otters move almost equally well on the land. Besides going on land to eat or sleep, river otters need to go on land to prevent their fur from getting waterlogged.

Otters cannot live on land nor in water exclusively, they are a perfect example of animals that need both mediums for survival.

Crabs

red crab walking on the beach

Scientific Name – Brachyura

Diet – Omnivore

Crabs are decapod crustaceans covered with an exoskeleton. They have five pairs of legs and one pair of claws. Found in all the world’s oceans, land, and freshwater, crabs are quite widespread creatures.

Only a few species live almost exclusively on land, while most can survive out of water for one to two days. Once their gills stop being moist, they need to go back in the water, or they’ll die.

When on land, crabs use their multiple legs to move sideways. The fastest land crab and one of the fastest terrestrial invertebrates is the Ghost crab, capable of reaching speeds of 10 mph.

Most of the crabs are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and they sleep during the day. Night lifestyle allows them to evade many different predators and also to keep themselves away from the drying sun.

Walruses

three walruses resting on the shore

Scientific Name – Odobenus rosmarus

Diet – Omnivore

Walruses are large animals characterized by long tusks and a funny land movement. They are terrestrial marine mammals who live in cold environments near the North Pole.

Although walruses are primarily land animals, they spend about two-thirds of their time in the water. They are very graceful in the water, and they can swim up to 22 mph (35 km/h).

They move on land surprisingly fast, considering they have flippers on all four limbs. They usually go on land to rest and bear their young.

Walruses are social creatures, and they’ll spend time outside the water in large numbers. They’ll also find safety in groups from their number one predators – polar bears.

Penguins

penguin walking through the snow

Scientific Name – Spheniscidae

Diet – Carnivore

When we talk about animals that live on land and water, we must not forget penguins. These flightless birds find their homes in the southern hemisphere.

Their inability to fly is replaced with exceptional swimming ability. Penguins spend two-thirds of their lives in the water.

How comfortable they are in the water tells the fact that they are even observed taking a nap while floating.

Equipped with flippers, penguins swim with great efficiency with speeds up to 6 mph (9.7 km/h). Once they are finished with the breeding season, penguins go on land to rest and feed their young.

Related: Animals That Crawl 

Swans

white swan standing on a sandy beach

Scientific Name – Cygnus

Diet – Omnivore

Swans are large waterfowl that live in a variety of environments. Slow-moving rivers, ponds, lakes, marshes, and streams are their most common habitats.

These semi-aquatic birds are strong swimmers that utilize their webbed feet adaptions.

Swans are birds that live on land in water; however, they’ll spend the majority of their time in the water.

They usually go on land to eat. By being herbivores, swans’ diet consists of short grass, leafy greens, and other plant vegetation.

Other than that, swans go on land to nest. They usually build their nests on already existing structures surrounded by the water.

American Alligators

american alligator half sumbered in the water

Scientific Name – Alligator mississippiensis

Diet – Carnivore

American alligators, or simply gators, are big crocodilian reptiles found in southeast parts of the United States. These apex predators mainly feed on fish, birds, amphibians, and mammals.

Gators spend most of their time in the water. At the surface, underwater, or at the very bottom. They usually stay 20 minutes submerged, but when resting, and when the conditions are right, alligators can hold their breath for up to 24 hours.

While on land, they appear clumsy, but alligators are capable of moving quite fast. Their stamina on land is low, but they can reach speeds of 35 mph.

Gators usually go on land to feed on animal carcasses, and sometimes they also attempt to hunt terrestrial animals themselves.

Salamanders

black and yellow salamander walking on a brown leaves

Scientific Name – Caudata

Diet – Carnivore

Salamanders are lizard-like amphibians characterized by their most skin and short limbs and slender bodies. They come in three classifications: aquatic, semi-aquatic, and terrestrial.

As our topic is ‘animals that live on land and in water’, I’ll focus on semi-aquatic salamanders. These types of salamanders are also known as newts.

Newts are born in the water where they spend their larvae period of life. During their second stage of life, the juvenile stage, newts live on land. Once they reach sexual maturity age, they return again to the water lifestyle.

However, all salamander types require water for their survival, so in order to stay moist, the most common habitat they choose is in or near the water.

Capybaras

capybara swimming in the water

Scientific Name – Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Diet – Herbivore

Closely related to guinea pigs, capybaras are unusual semi-aquatic mammals that live in South America. These giant rodents have evolved perfectly for life in bodies of water.

Capybaras are great swimmers that are capable of staying underwater for up to five minutes if needed. Their partially webbed feet are perfect adaptations for life in the water. Besides, they have brittle fur that dries out on land fairly quickly.

The vast majority of their life is spent in the water, swimming, or feeding in the water. When on land, capybaras are either grooming themselves or preparing to sleep in the nearest dense vegetation.

Hippos

big hippo in the water with its mouth open

Scientific Name – Hippopotamus amphibius

Diet – Omnivore

The hippopotamus is one of the largest semi-aquatic mammals in the world. Found in lakes and rivers of Africa; hippos spend 16 hours per day submerged.

The reason they are mostly in the water is due to their skin. Hippos have sensitive skin that needs to be kept wet during the sunny part of the day.

When the sun goes down, these giants go on land to do their second favorite activity – feeding.

Even though they spend most of their time in the water, hippos are animals that can’t swim nor float. They are too heavy to float.

Instead, they move by walking underwater.

Hippos are also differently aggressive, depending on the location. On land, they are usually peaceful, while in the water hippos are very unpredictable and dangerous.

Polar Bears

polar bear standing on hind legs near the water

Scientific Name – Ursus maritimus

Diet – Carnivore

Polar bears are the largest and the most powerful bear species. Found on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean; polar bears are classified as marine mammals.

These ice bears spend most of their time on land, but they are perfectly adapted to aquatic life.

Two coats of thick fur keep their body temperature regulated in harsh environments. Besides, polar bears are exceptional swimmers.

A record-holding female polar bear traveled 426 miles by swimming a ten days without a pause. On top of that, polar bears are capable of holding their breath for up to 20 minutes if needed.

On land, they might seem clumsy, but do not get tricked, polar bears can sprint up to 25mph. They also sleep on land. A shallow pit in the snow is usually their favorite place to nap.

Spotted Turtles

Scientific Name – Clemmys guttata

Diet – Omnivore

The spotted turtle is a tiny partly aquatic creature, and as their name suggests, they have yellow spots on its dark shell. They live in shallow, fresh-water areas of southern Canada and the eastern United States.

Despite being semi-aquatic, spotted turtles spend a good amount of time on land. The reason is simple. These small reptiles are not good swimmers, and because of this, they only go in shallow water.

Spotted turtles usually go in the water to feed on snails, worms, spiders, and some aquatic plants.

Besides that, spotted turtles are vulnerable to many predators on land, so to escape disturbance, they’ll flee in the water or bury themselves in the mud.

Lungfish

Scientific Name – Dipnoi

Diet – Omnivore

The last animals on our list of animals that live on land and water are lungfish.

Lungfish are prehistoric creatures that have been around for 400 million years! These animals live in swamps and small rivers of South America, Australia, and Africa.

Lungfish are the only fish species that can live on land and water. Unlike all fish, lungfish have both lungs and gills, which enables them to breathe in both mediums.

Besides that, these unique creatures hibernate in the mud for up to five years without any food or water! They usually end their estivation period when rain accumulates enough for them to swim again.

However, even under usual conditions, these animals breathe air. Their gills and lungs function together to provide the oxygen for these incredible creatures of nature.

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