Reptiles are animals that are cold-blooded. Most reptiles lay eggs and their skin is covered with hard, dry scales.
What does cold-blooded mean?
Animals that are cold-blooded don't automatically maintain a constant body temperature. They have to lay out in the sun to keep their body heat up. This also means that reptiles don't burn as much energy keeping their body warm and, as a result, they don't have to eat nearly as much food as a similar sized mammal or other warm-blooded animals.
Types of Reptiles
There are many types of reptiles. The main categories are snakes, crocodiles and alligators, turtles, and lizards. Reptiles can be found on every continent except for Antarctica.
Alligators and crocodiles look slow, but can move very quickly when attacking.
Snakes are legless reptiles. They move along the ground by flexing their body and can move very quickly despite not having legs. Only a small percentage of snakes are poisonous. Many snakes are constrictors, meaning that they squeeze their prey with their bodies until the animal is dead or immobile. Then they swallow it whole. If the meal is large enough, a snake can go weeks or even months without needing to eat again.
Lizards are similar to snakes, but with legs.
Turtles are reptiles with a big shell to protect them. Some Turtles can live for more than 100 years.
Garter Snake Source: USFWS
Biggest, Fastest, Smallest
The biggest reptile is the salt water crocodile. These reptiles can grow to 2,000 pounds and 12 1/2 feet long.
The Green Anaconda is the heaviest snake, while the Reticulated Python is the longest snake.
The biggest lizard is the Komodo Dragon.
The largest turtle is the leatherback turtle which can weigh 1,800 pounds with an 8 foot long shell.
The smallest reptile is thought to be the mini chameleon from Madagascar which only grows to just over an inch in length.
The smallest snake is the thread snake which can only grow to around 4 inches long.
The fastest reptile is the spiny tailed iguana which can run up to 20 miles per hour. The fastest snake is the Black Mamba.
What's the difference between reptiles and amphibians?
There are a few major differences that separate reptiles and amphibians. Amphibians go through a larval stage, like the tadpole which turns into a frog. Reptiles don't do this. Also, their skin is different where reptiles have scales for skin, but amphibians have moist, glandular skin.
Some types of amphibians include frogs, salamanders, and toads.
Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Source: USFWS
Fun Facts About Reptiles
Crocodiles have been known to swallow rocks so they can dive deeper into the water.
A frog (which is an amphibian) can not only breathe through its lungs, but also through its skin.
Some snakes have over 300 pairs of ribs.
The shell of a turtle is made up of a bunch of bones (around 60) all connected together.
Turtles have no ears to hear with, but they are thought to have excellent eye sight and sense of smell. They can also feel vibrations from loud sounds.