Reptiles are scaly ectothermic creatures with backbones and a lung system, according to the National Wildlife Federation. More than 280 reptile species are found in the United States, and approximately 8,700 species have been identified across the globe.Continue Reading
The most common sub-classes of Reptilia include turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, alligators, snakes and lizards. As ectotherms, reptiles cannot regulate their own body heat and must derive warmth from environmental sources, Scholastic states. This characteristic is often described as being "cold-blooded," because a reptile's body temperature can fluctuate drastically in differing climates. Reptiles are diverse in size, ranging from tiny dwarf geckos to pythons as long as 33 meters.
All reptiles have vertebrae and can breathe air. Equipped with tough, dry scales, reptilian creatures are able to hold moisture in their skins and prevent dehydration in dry habitats, according to the Saint Louis Zoo. This thick layer of outer skin is shed multiple times during a reptile's life cycle, whether all at once or in flakes. Turtles and tortoises stand out from other reptilian species because of their hard protective shells made of strong bony structures.
In all reptile species, fertilization occurs internally, and developing offspring are protected by an amniotic egg that can survive on land, according to Scholastic. The embryo is surrounded by a resilient outer shell, an internal double-walled sac and amniotic fluid. Unlike many amphibians, reptiles are fully formed at birth and do not progress through any larval stages.Learn more about Reptiles
Examples of the Reptilia, or reptiles, include common garter snakes, chameleons, saltwater crocodiles, tuataras and Galapagos tortoises. There are about 9,500 species in the Reptilia family, the earliest of which evolved about 315 million years ago.Full Answer >
The Congo rainforest is home to about 280 species of reptiles, including snakes, crocodiles and tortoises. Spanning across six African countries, the Congo Basin is the second largest tropical rainforest in the world and is home to some of the most endangered and most spectacular wildlife in Africa.Full Answer >
Alligators are predators, eating fish, birds, mammals, mollusks and other reptiles. They consume prey of increasingly larger size as they grow from juveniles to adults. Although their diet is primarily flesh-based, alligators do sometimes eat fruit.Full Answer >
Although most reptiles lay eggs, some reptiles retain the eggs, and the young are hatched inside the mother's body. Others are completely live-bearing, and no hatching is involved at all.Full Answer >