10 Amazing Reptile Facts You Never Knew
What do lizards, snakes, turtles and dinosaurs have in common? We'll they're all awesome, for starters! Click here to find out how many of these amazing reptile facts you know!
Reptiles are some of the world's most interesting animals. These cold-blooded creatures live on every continent except Antarctica, and in their long history on Earth they've evolved some amazing abilities. Many people are put off by reptiles, and we probably all know someone who's scared of snakes. But as you'll find out, there's a whole lot more to the reptile world than these stereotypes!
Do you prefer your animal facts a bit fluffier? Try these bear facts! Bigger? Try these whale facts! Squiddier? Try these giant squid facts! Or just read on for the reptiles!
1. Reptiles are cold-blooded
You might have heard this before - but what does it mean? It means their bodies don't make any of their own heat like birds or mammals do (that includes us). To move around, reptiles need warmth from the sun. When their bodies are warm enough they have plenty of energy to roam around and hunt - but if they get too cold they literally sloooow doooown. Some types of iguana completely freeze up and fall out of trees when they get too cold!
This doesn't mean the warmer the better though, and all species of reptile have their own favourite temperature. Some salamanders actually prefer being a bit on the chilly side!
2. Reptiles aren't slimy
Because reptiles are cold-blooded, they don't change their temperature by sweating, or by panting like dogs do. Because of this their skin isn't slimy the way many people imagine. Lots of reptiles have shiny skin or live in wet places, but it's actually a myth that they're slimy! So now you have no excuse to not stroke one!
3. Dinosaurs were reptiles
Reptiles are a really big family of animals, and one of the most famous groups in it is of course - dinosaurs! Reptiles today are quite different from dinosaurs though, and one way you can tell is by looking at their legs. Dinosaurs stood upright, but if you look at a modern reptile like a crocodile or an iguana, their legs sprawl out on either side. So they're similar - but a bit different.
4. Dinosaurs, reptiles and birds
The job of putting animals in groups is a pretty complicated one, and there are plenty of surprises when it comes to classifying reptiles. Scientists work it out by seeing which animals evolved from which earlier animals, like a family tree. It's generally accepted now that birds are actually a type of dinosaur - which makes birds... also reptiles! This is what we think at the moment - but scientists are still arguing about exactly what reptiles, dinosaurs and birds are!
5. Reptiles can live for ages!
Some reptiles, like tortoises, can live for a REALLY long time. The giant Aldabra tortiose from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean can live up to 150 years! Other reptiles can live a long time too. Remember how they're cold-blooded? Well this means they burn food slower, which often means they live longer, too.
6. Reptiles can go a long time without food
Reptiles using their food slowly leads us to our next fun fact. Reptiles can go a really long time without eating! Snakes can last about a year without eating a single thing, and crocodiles can last even longer - even managing 2 years without a bite to eat! They save energy by not moving, and keep themselves just awake enough to tell if some food is walking past. You can bet they're hungry when they wake up!
7. Some reptiles can change colour
A few types of reptile can even change the colour of pigments in their skin, and create amazing effects like this chameleon. Chameleons change colour to communicate with other chameleons, to scare them away or invite them to mate. Other reptiles like geckos change colour too, but mostly so they can hide from predators.
8. Tortoises have HUGE bladders
Here's a fact you never knew you needed! Tortoises have really big bladders, and can store a massive amount of wee. You know, just in case. The giant Galapagos tortoise can store up to 20% of it's body weight in wee!
9. You've got something in common with snakes
You might be surprised to know that snakes are made out of *some* of the same stuff as you are! Snakes hard scales are made from keratin - a tough material that's quite common in animals. It's what your fingernails and hair are made out of! It's also what makes up a rhino's tusks, a lion's claws and a horse's hooves.
10. Reptiles need your help!
Like all animals on Earth, reptiles rely on a complicated ecosystem to live. These ecosystems took millions and millions of years to evolve, but in just 100 years or so us humans have made a right mess of it. Human-created problems like climate change and pollution threaten many ecosystems around the world, which is bad news for the animals that live there. This includes reptiles of many kinds - but it also includes us humans too.
If you want to help the environment there are lots of ways you can help. You can educate yourself about science, do your bit for the environment, and most importantly - make sure grownups keep their promises when it comes to looking after Planet Earth!