Reptiles are a diverse group of cold-blooded, air-breathing animals that are characterized by their scaly skin and laying of shelled eggs.
They can be found on every continent except for Antarctica and are famous for their interesting adaptations, including the ability to survive in extreme environments.
Reptiles are among the longest-lived species on our planet, as the Aldabra tortoise may live for more than 150 years.
Reptiles have many fascinating characteristics and behaviors that will amaze you. So, in this article, we will talk about some amazing facts about reptiles.
Interesting Reptiles Facts
They are ectothermic
Reptiles are mainly ectothermic animals, meaning they get their body heat from external sources. Also, these animals cannot regulate their body temperature internally as we humans do.
These animals bask in the Sun when cool and seek water or shade when hot. As these animals do not have sweat glands, they are not slimy. However, their skin is generally dry and cool.
It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 species of reptiles on the planet, and they can be discovered on every continent except Antarctica.
Most snakes do not have venom.
Most of the snakes in the world are non-venomous. Only about 500 species are venomous, and among them, only 30-40 snakes are considered harmful to humans. So, it can be said that less than 2 percent of all snakes are regarded as harmful to humans.
However, more Americans die yearly from bee stings than from snake bites.
There are many venomous snakes in Australia.
In Australia, there are more venomous snakes than the number of non-venomous snakes. Among these venomous snakes, the Inland taipan is among the most popular Australian snakes. Australia is the only continent with more venomous snakes than non-venomous ones.
Reptiles are among the longest-lived species.
Reptiles are among the most well-known and longest-lived species on the planet. For instance, large tortoises, like the Aldabra tortoise, can live for over 150 years.
Alligators can live up to 70 years. Moreover, Ball pythons are a popular type of pet snake, which can live almost 40 years.
Due to being cold-blooded animals, they can survive in different types of climates and habitats, and they are less active in cold temperatures.
Reptiles have a scaly skin, and they lay eggs.
Almost all reptiles are covered in scales, which protect them from predators and help them retain moisture.
The scales of various reptile species may vary in size, shape, and texture and can be used to identify individual animals.
Moreover, all reptiles lay eggs protected by a hard or leathery shell. Depending on the species, the eggs can be buried in the ground, laid in a nest, or carried around by the mother.
Reptiles can go for long periods without food.
As reptiles are slow-blooded animals, they have a slower metabolism than those warm-blooded animals.
This means that reptiles can go for longer periods without food. Some reptile species can even survive for several months without food.
Though reptiles usually lay eggs, there are still some reptile species that can give birth to live young. This is called viviparity and can be seen in some species of lizards and snakes.
Reptiles have three-chambered hearts.
Unlike birds and mammals with four-chambered hearts, reptiles have three-chambered hearts. This means that the circulatory system of reptiles is less efficient, which may limit their endurance and ability to perform high-intensity activities.
Due to their three-chambered hearts, the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood gets mixed, though the degree of this mixing varies depending on the species. Thus, reptiles have a closed circulatory system.
However, despite being reptiles, crocodilians, such as crocodiles, alligators, caiman, etc., have four-chambered hearts.
The respiratory system of reptiles
Almost all reptiles breathe with their lungs because the scales of reptiles prevent them from getting oxygen through their skin.
However, their lungs are more efficient than the lungs of other animals, like amphibians, with some more area for exchanging gas.
Some reptiles can even breathe by changing the volume of their body cavity. However, lizards do not have a diaphragm, and hence, the muscle of their chest move the chest wall, which can inflate and deflate the lungs.
Sound production in reptiles
Compared with birds, amphibians, and even mammals, reptiles are less vocal. Their sound production is generally limited to hissing. This hissing sound is produced by forcing air through a glottis and is not considered a true vocalization.
However, some kinds of crocodilians, turtles, and lizards have vibrating fold-like structures in the glottis or larynx. Some turtles and geckos have true vocal cords, which have elastin-rich connective tissue.
The skin of reptiles
The skin of reptiles is covered in a horny epidermis. This makes it watertight; hence, reptiles can live on dry land, unlike amphibians.
Compared to mammals’ skin, reptiles’ skin is thinner and lacks the thick dermal layer that creates leather in mammals.
However, the exposed body parts of reptiles are protected by scutes or scales, sometimes forming armor and sometimes with a bony base.
The scales found in crocodiles and turtles are of dermal origin, and hence, these are called scutes.
Digestion in reptiles
Most reptiles are carnivorous or insectivorous and have a simple and short digestive tract due to meat being simple to break down.
The digestion procedure in reptiles is much slower than in mammals, so they have a lower resting metabolism. Large reptiles can digest a meal for several days because their poikilotherm metabolism does not need high energy.
Today, only turtles are the only known reptile group that is herbivorous. However, as those animals do not have complex teeth, they sometimes swallow pebbles and rocks, which help them by grinding up the plant matter.
The nervous system of reptiles
The nervous system of reptiles has basic parts similar to an amphibian, but the reptile cerebellum and cerebrum are slightly larger.
Most reptile species have well-developed nerves except snakes. Snakes do not have external ears.
Reptiles have twelve pairs of cranial nerves, and because of their short cochlea, these animals use electrical tuning to increase the range of their audible frequencies.
Green iguanas can be immobile in the cold.
The green iguana is a specific reptile type that becomes immobile when the temperature reaches below 40 degrees.
As they often prefer to sit in trees, they have been seen to drop out of trees when the weather in their living places gets very cold.
Though these iguanas are often frightened while thawing, it’s best to avoid them in that situation.
In contrast, though lizards cannot feel cold or warm, their speed and movements can be affected by the outside temperature, like the cold will make them slow.
Reptiles need to hold their breath while eating.
Most reptiles need to hold their breath while swallowing food. However, this does not apply to crocodilians, as these animals have a secondary palate that enables them to continue breathing even if their mouth is full of struggling prey.
On land, female sea turtles usually don’t breathe while walking. They either breathe or rest until they are in the nest they have created.
Skin-shedding of reptiles
Reptiles usually shed their skin periodically. The younger ones shed their skins more often. Reptiles like snakes shed skin from head to tail in a single section called snakeskin.
Some of these sins look like the snake from whom they came. In contrast, lizards shed their skin in some patchy sections.
The egg-eating snakes
As their name suggests, the African egg-eating snakes like to eat the eggs of other animals. These snakes will swallow the egg whole.
After that, they use their tiny spikes to open the eggs and consume the nutritious contents. Lastly, those snakes will regurgitate the unrequired part of the eggshell in a neatly folded piece.
Lizards and snakes flick their tongues in the air to catch
Lizards and snakes flick their tongues in the air to catch scent particles, as they don’t use their noses to smell something.
With their tongues, they can collect scent particles and then pass them over something, like a Jacobson’s organ, to decipher the air around them. This is the way how reptiles hunt for food.
Some reptiles can change color.
Chameleons do not change their color to blend with various backgrounds. However, these reptiles are naturally camouflaged with their surrounding environments.
They can change the color of their skin by darkening or brightening it. However, these colors are related to their emotional changes or temperature regulation. For instance, an angry or frightened chameleon can become bright in color.
The skull of snakes
The skulls of reptiles are created with many interconnecting small bones. This formation is completely different from a human skull, which is, in fact, a solid piece.
Thus, snakes can expand their heads and jaws to eat things much larger than their heads.
For example, a common garter snake could consume a frog than is twice the size of its head.
Reptiles have excellent senses.
Most reptiles have evolved various senses that enable them to find food and navigate their environment.
Such as, snakes can detect the body heat of their prey and can see in infrared. Some other reptiles, like geckos, have excellent hearing and can also detect sounds at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing.
So, reptiles are a diverse animal group with different characteristics and behaviors that amaze many scientists and animal lovers.
At the end of this article, we learned about 20 really amazing facts about these fascinating animals called reptiles.
These facts offer us a clear picture of this interesting animal species in our ecosystem. If you want to collect some more amazing facts, you may visit our website.
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