There is no doubt about it, reptiles are amazing fellows, but they are also really misunderstood. Many people may even consider reptiles scary, without realizing that lizards and tortoises are actually reptiles! Even though there are a lot of myths, and a little fear about these guys, they are still popular among guests to the park. So today we are going to take a few minutes to talk about reptiles to learn what they are, what they aren’t and why there is no reason to fear these amazing animals!
What is a reptile?
Reptiles are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone, and most of them are cold-blooded and have scaly, dry skin. Most lay eggs, but not all. Some of the most common reptiles are snakes, turtles and lizards. Unlike amphibians, which have gills, reptiles have lungs. Many people are surprised to find out that turtles are reptiles, because there is a common perception that snakes and lizards are the only reptiles there are. Turtles are also quite visually different from snakes, and even people who are fearful of snakes like turtles. But all of these creatures are reptiles.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these reptiles to understand them better.
There are over 3,000 species of snake and they can be found just about everywhere, except Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand. They come in all sizes and have a striking array of colors and patterns, going from plain to ornate and colorful. Some snakes are venomous, about 600 types worldwide, while most are not. Those that are not venomous may hunt for eggs, small rodents and insects to eat, and some may use constriction to kill their prey. Snakes live in all types of environments, making their homes in rain forests, plains, mountains and just about everywhere in between.
These critters come in all shapes and sizes and are literally found all over the world. In fact, there are over 4,500 different species of lizards, making them one of the most diverse types of reptiles. Within those different species there is a lot of diversity as well. For example, some lizards give birth to live young, while others lay eggs. Some lizards have no legs, while some have four. You’ll find lizards in all types of climates, terrains and environments. Many people even have lizards as pets.
Turtles, which includes tortoises ,are reptiles that may live on the land or in the water. Turtles reside on the land, and tortoises live largely in the water. There are around 356 species living around the world, and they are found everywhere except Antarctica. You can find them in fresh and saltwater. Even though there are fewer variations, there is still a large degree of differences among turtles. Some are quite small, while some species of sea turtles can reach around 1,500 pounds.
As you can tell, reptiles are diverse and interesting critters. The next time you visit, pay a little extra time to look at the reptiles up close and we’re sure you’ll also see that there is nothing to be feared, only admired!
Read to meet some reptiles in person? Plan your trip today!