Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates covered in special skin made up of scales, bony plates, or a combination of both.
Reptiles are animals which belong to the family of reptilia turtles, crocodilians, snakes lizards, tuatara – more recently amphibians have been included within the family too.
Reptiles have essentially roamed the earth for millions of years and can be traced back to prehistoric times. Crocodilians are thought to be some of the oldest living relatives of reptiles.
Something which really defines a reptile is the fact that they are ectothermic. Ectothermic is any cold-blooded animal which uses the external environment to control its body temperature, without the appropriate heat gradients and temperatures, these animals will essentially perish as their bodily functions, like all living organisms utilize, essentially operating ranges.
Unlike other animals in the wonderful animal kingdom, reptiles don’t have the luxury of being able to maintain a constant temperature, they don’t have feathers like birds. They don’t have any sweat glands and they can’t pant like a dog when the weather is too hot. Essentially, the only way that they can regulate their body temperature is by moving in and out of shaded and sunny areas, hence why reptiles are often seen perched or rocks – they are absorbing the heat from the rock and the sun! They have slower metabolisms (generally) and are, as highlighted, – cold-blooded.
Reptiles also utilise temperature as a queue for breeding and another interesting fact that the vast majority of reptiles lay eggs – except a few Boa species and some lizards. But for the most part, eggs are how reptiles are birthed into the world.
Reptiles generally lay eggs in the soil, or ground from where they come from, they utilise the temperature of the soil to incubate the eggs, unlike birds who are able to use their own body heat and features. As you can imagine selecting just the right spot to lay eggs is absolutely critical.
Interestingly, the sex of some reptiles sex is directly related to the temperature of which the eggs were incubated! For example, Leopard Geckos tend to hatch male at lower temperatures and female at higher temperatures. When the temps are middle of the road, hatchlings are usually around 50/50.
When reptiles are born, within their first few hours of birth they are fully equipped with all of the features of an adult! It’s simply amazing to see. What’s more, the very first fossilised reptiles were thought to have been seen almost 315 Million years ago! Reptiles are an incredible pet to own, and if you are interested, you should see our care sheet section.