Reptiles

We're more than a reptile zoo - we're a window into the wider world of these fascinating creatures. Don't stop here, come for a visit to learn about reptiles!

Dominating the Earth for over 200 million years and still inhabiting all the continents except Antarctica, reptiles are believed to have started evolving around 330 million years ago. They are considered as the first animals to live and reproduce on land since their skin did not need to be kept moist and their eggs did not require water for incubation like the amphibians did.

Types of reptiles

Today, only five main types of reptiles remain:

  1. Snakes
  2. Crocodilians
  3. Lizards
  4. Turtles
  5. Tuatara (similar to lizards, but part of a distinct lineage)

Reptile characteristics

Cold-blooded:
Ectotherm - A reptile’s body temperature is influenced by the surrounding atmosphere.
Skin:
Dry and covered with scales or scutes.
Internal structure:
Spinal columns, a strong skeletal system, and a rib cage.
Organs:
They have a well-developed brain (and a central nervous system), lungs, and a 3-chambered heart (exception are the crocodiles with a 4-chambered heart).
Amniotic eggs:
They are the first animals to produce eggs with an independent water supply, giving them the ability to lay their eggs on land instead of water.
Reproduction:
Most reptiles lay eggs, although some give birth by hatching the eggs inside the mother’s body.
Habitat:
Reptiles can be found in a diverse range of habitats - ponds, seas, lakes, treetops, and mountain ranges, as well as deserts and arid regions.

Conservation Status

Less than 10% of all known reptile species have been evaluated for inclusion on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Of this small percentage, over half have been considered threatened or endangered - amounting to over 340 reptile species so far…and counting.

Threats:

Habitat loss appears to be the major contributor. Poaching, egg harvesting, and non-native species (cats and dogs) also play a significant role in the decline of many reptile species.