Reptiles! Depending on your interests, geckos, bearded dragons, and chameleons may come to mind when hearing the word “reptile.” Or maybe you think of crocodiles, alligators, or caimans! Whatever comes to mind when you hear the word “reptile,” October 21st marks Reptile Awareness Day – a day for reptile enthusiasts to share their passion and educate others about these fascinating creatures!
To celebrate this day, here are some interesting reptile facts:
- Most reptiles lay eggs, but some give live birth! Garter snakes, Jackson’s chameleon, some species of skinks, and all boa constrictors give birth to live young.
- Reptiles have specialized skin cells and are covered in scales, bony plates or both. The inner part of a turtle shell is bone, while the external “scutes” or shields of hard shell turtles are made of keratin.
- Turtle shells grow as the turtle grows, they don’t “shed’ or leave their shell since they are attached to their shell.
- Reptiles control their internal temperature by moving to the sun or shade as needed to warm up or cool off.
- Reptiles defend themselves by camouflage, hissing, or biting.
- More than 8000 species of reptiles are known and live on every continent except Antarctica – it’s too cold there!
- You think your grandmother is old?! Reptiles are some of the longest-lived species! Some tortoises can live to be more than 150 years old!
- Most snakes are non-venomous, with only about 500 species being venomous, and of these, only about 40 are harmful to humans.
- Snakes and lizards flick their tongues to capture smells – this is partly how they search for food!
- Some species of geckos can detach their tails when attacked by a predator! In most cases a new tail will grow in place of the old one.
- Reptiles have been around for a looooong time! They are the oldest type of animal on the planet.
If you own a reptile, you already know just how amazing these creatures are. If you don’t own one (yet!), but would consider adding one to your life, start a conversation with your family to see if everyone is on board with a reptile in your home! Investigate which types of reptiles would be good for beginners and speak to your veterinarian for advice. If a reptile is not something that you would like as a pet, you can appreciate these interesting and amazing beings and advocate for their protection by donating to a conservation program and posting about Reptile Awareness Day on social media.