Reptiles are egg-laying animals that have a tough skin covered in scales. They live on land and in water. All reptiles shed their skin from time to time.
There are four main groups of reptiles:
The tortoise family (Testudines): these reptiles all have a shell over their bodies.
Snakes and lizards (Squamata): the majority of reptiles fall into this group.
The crocodile family (Crocodylia): this group is the giants of the reptile world.
Tuataras (Rhynchocephalia): these reptiles are very rare and look a bit like lizards.
Reptiles are meat eaters, with the exception of tortoises, which move too slowly to catch fast-moving prey. Lizards, such as this flying gecko can eat half their own weight in insects in one night.
Reptiles have scales, which can control how much water they lose through their skin. This means they can live in dry places. They are cold blooded, however, so rely on the climate to keep their temperature in check.
This lizard, which lives in the desert basks on rocks to warm up its body.
Nearly all reptiles lay eggs, which hatch into miniature versions of their parents. A few such as this slow worm, however, give birth to live young.
Tuataras are the only survivors of a group of reptiles that lived with the dinosaurs million of years ago. Today they live on a group of islands off New Zealand.
Tuataras live in burrows and hunt at night. They can live for 100 years.
A reptile’s skin is covered with scales made of keratin, like your nails.
Tortoise: the shell of a tortoise has lots of large, hard scales on it.
Lizard: lizard’s scales have stretchy skin between them.
Crocodile: these scales are strengthened in between by bony plates.
Snake: the skin on snakes have overlapping scales for extra protection.
Q. What is the longest snake in the world?
A. The reticulated python can reach lengths of 10 m (33 ft).
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