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  • What are reptiles?

    • There are five main groups of Reptiles

      1. Turtles

      2. Snakes

      3. Lizards

      4. Tuataras

      5. Crocodilians

      6. Birds are also considered reptiles, but we will not be including them in this list

    • Number of Species: close to 9,000 species worldwide

    • Range: reptiles are found throughout the world except Antarctica

    • Habitat: varies depending on species

    • Characteristics

      • Reptiles have thicker and more waterproof skin (keratinized scales) than amphibians which prevents water loss and protects against physical injury

      • Reptiles have better developed lungs than amphibians (more surface area)

        • They lack gills that fish and many amphibians use to aid in breathing

      • They have more efficient circulatory system than fish and amphibians (higher blood pressure)

      • Reptiles are ectothermic (cold blooded) meaning that they rely mostly on the sun for heat (with a few exceptions such as the leatherback sea turtle)

        • They use less energy than mammals and birds  (10 to 20%) because they don’t have to produce their own heat

        • Reptile control their body temperature by moving around in their habitat (basking, going underground, etc.)

      • Their main form of nitrogenous waste is uric acid which can be kept at higher concentrations in the body, thereby allowing them to conserve water (especially important in dry environments).

    • Senses: varies depending on species of reptiles

    • Reproduction

      • Unlike amphibians, reptiles lay eggs with a dry leathery shell that are more adapted to drier environments. Their eggs cannot develop under water like amphibians. Some reptiles maintain their eggs inside the body, but the development process is very similar.

      • Fertilization for reptiles is always done internally.

      • They show no larval stage in development (like frogs that develop from tadpoles).

    • Threats: Reptiles have a wide variety of threats including habitat destruction, pollution and waste from human activities, hunting, and the introduction of exotic species to their native habitats.

    • Fun facts:

      • The largest reptile in the world is the saltwater crocodile, which can reach over 20 feet in length and weigh over 1 ton.

 

  • Why are reptiles important to us?

    • Most reptiles are natural carnivores and eat animals that many people consider to be pests.

      • In many parts of the world farmers welcome snakes and lizards onto their land because they get rid of insects, rodents (rats and mice) and other animals that eat their crops (like wheat and corn). They help save our food! 

      • Many snakes and some lizards eat rodents which spread diseases to people.

    • Some reptiles provide skins which boost the economy in areas where they are hunted and farmed sustainably.

    • They are an important source of protein for many people throughout the world.

    • Reptiles kept as pets can provide an exciting and rewarding experience for their keepers.

    • Snake venom is being used to help treat heart attacks and blood diseases, brain injuries, strokes, and disorders like Alzheimer’s.

    • Many cultures view reptiles as a symbol of fertility, the cyclic nature of life, power, and mischief.