Reptiles are not everybody’s favourite type of animal! They come with a bad reputation and are not cute and cuddly like puppies or panda bears.
But they are very interesting creatures. They come in many different shapes and sizes and can have some amazing attributes. Let’s find out more about reptiles with these fascinating facts:
- Lizards are the most abundant types of reptile, but snakes, crocodiles and tortoises also belong to the group
- Some species of reptile, for example tortoises and turtles, have not evolved for over 200 million years. This makes them some of the oldest extant animal species on the planet
- Most reptiles lay hard-shelled eggs, but not all. About 20% of snake species give birth to live young
- Reptiles are cold-blooded. This means that the dinosaurs, who were warm-blooded, were not reptiles. Instead, it is now thought that they were a link between reptiles and birds
- Some reptiles can re-grow certain body parts. Geckos can shed their tails if bitten by a predator and so escape. A new tail soon grows back
- The skin of a reptile is made of scales. These are formed by keratin – the same thing that is in our hair and nails. Some species (turtles and tortoises) have adapted their scales to form hard, protective shells
- The largest reptile is the saltwater crocodile which can weigh up to 2 tonnes. But that’s not the longest – that title goes to the reticulated python which can grow up to 10 metres long
- Some reptiles can change the colour of their skin. The hue of a chameleon’s skin will alter depending on the animal’s mood
- Snakes smell with their tongues rather than with their noses. They flick their wet tongues in the air and use them to gather scent particles
Now that you know a little bit more about reptiles, I hope that you can come to love them just as much as those cute and cuddly mammals. If so, and if you’d like to help them, have a look at the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. They’re a charity which champions the conservation of these magnificent creatures. And after that, you could try this quiz on reptiles of the world – see if you can score 10 out of 10!