Happy Reptile Awareness Day!

Reptiles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; colours and textures; habitats and countries… Even within one species type the diversity is vast! All reptiles are ectothermic – this means they cannot generate their own heat; and must warm up using external heat sources, to enable them to move around and function. Alligators, Crocodiles, Caymans, Komodo Dragons and other large reptiles, are often shown on Nature Documentaries sat out in the sun to warm themselves up to start the day. The sun is the main source of heat for wild reptiles; as well as sitting on rocks and other surfaces that have been warmed by the sun. Reptiles kept as pets have various sources of heat on offer for their vivarium (tank) – heat mats and rocks are popular, however can be dangerous as the animal can get too hot and stick to these and overheat (often fatally). The best source of heat (in my opinion) are heat lamps, sectioned off from the animal, so that the animal cannot come into direct contact and harm itself.

Lizards come in many colours (many can change colour), different scale types, even legless! A lizard is defined differently from a snake because they have eyelids and (internal) ears. Snakes come in a variety of colours and scale types also; snakes do no have eyelids or legs or ears (internal or external). Snakes ‘hear’ through their jaw by feeling vibrations. Personally, from handling both legless lizards such as the Glass lizard and various snake species including the Corn snake;  I find a big difference between the two is how fluid and graceful the movements of a snake are – how they will curl around your arm and up your neck so smoothly, and how a legless lizard is very much the same in its’ movement as a lizard with legs – moving a bit less fluidly, it always made me think that the movements seem jerky on a legless lizard, but fitting to a lizard with legs. Don’t get me wrong, a legless lizard moves around perfectly well in its’ own way, as it was designed to do – but the movement between a snake, a legless lizard, and a legged lizard are varied and unique, and perfect in their own way.

Chameleons have feet uniquely shaped to grip trees and twigs perfectly; Geckos have ‘sticky’ or ‘sucky’ feet to grip a wide variety of surfaces, Bearded Dragons have long nails well adapted for clinging to surfaces, and for digging. Turtles – sea and land (aka tortoise) – move rather slowly in comparison to most reptiles when on land. Land turtles or tortoises have claws for digging, and legs for walking; Sea turtles move brilliantly in the water with flippers for swimming and gliding in the water, however are poor movers on land – despite this they manage to move onto beaches and dig nests every year for laying. Terrapins have feet in between the two – they have little claws on webbed feet; moving fairly equally on land and in water. Alligators and Crocodiles (and the like) move swiftly in the water, making it their home for most of the time.

There are many, many reptile species – feel free to contact me with any question about any species, and I will respond to the best of my knowledge.

Please enjoy below the images (either my own or Google Open Source) of various reptiles species.

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