Most students are familiar with reptiles such as snakes, lizards and turtles. They may not be aware that birds (order Avia) nestle deep within the historic class Reptilia.
Reptiles are cold-blooded and ectothermic, meaning that they lack the ability to generate heat through their cellular metabolism. They instead rely on the environment to regulate their internal temperature by moving between sun and shade and using preferential circulation to shift warmed and cool blood throughout the body.
Reptiles are found all over the world in a wide range of habitats. They are most commonly associated with inland water bodies (tetrapods such as fish, birds, mammals and amphibians also tend to be heavily concentrated there), but some also live on land or in dry habitats, like deserts.
The class Reptilia is defined as “amniotes that are neither birds nor mammals,” and extant reptiles can be grouped into three groups: Testudines (turtles, terrapins and tortoises), Squamata (lizards and snakes) and Crocodilia (crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gavials and coelacanths). All members of the order Squamata can produce venom, which is used for hunting prey or defense against predators.
The majority of the nearly 8000 known species of reptiles are cold-blooded, and most do not generate enough internal heat to maintain a constant body temperature. They rely on external sources of heat, such as sunlight or shade, and can adjust their core body temperature by moving between sun and shade or by preferential circulation — bringing warmed blood to the center of the body and pushing cooler blood to the periphery. The exception is the leatherback sea turtle, which is able to generate a small amount of warmth through its cellular metabolism. In addition, they do not have fur or feathers for insulation, and they lack sweat glands to regulate their internal temperature.
Reptiles are a great choice for those looking for an exotic pet that requires less work than, say, a cat or dog. They don’t need daily walks, a litter box or a yard, making them perfect for condo and apartment living. In fact, most reptiles are so easy to care for that they make excellent beginner pets and are sold in many pet stores, at reptile (or herp) expos, and at breeders’ homes or reptile farms.
These air-breathing vertebrates are covered in special skin made of scales or bony plates and include crocodiles, snakes, lizards, tortoises and turtles. They are also cold-blooded and cannot regulate their internal body temperature, so they need to move into the sun or shade to maintain a comfortable temperature. They also lack fur or sweat glands, so they can’t cool down on a hot day.
The extinction risk of reptiles is difficult to predict because their ranges are often limited. As a result, their needs and conservation challenges are often overlooked. In order to ensure that reptile species receive appropriate attention, comprehensive extinction risk assessments need to be available for them. This will allow them to be incorporated into conservation planning and policy just as birds, mammals and amphibians are today.
Easy to Care for
Some reptile species are easier to care for than others. This makes them ideal pets for busy families or first time reptile owners. Keeping a pet lizard or tortoise requires an understanding of their basic needs but also their diet and enclosure requirements. Reptiles cannot regulate their body temperature so the temperature and humidity levels in their enclosures are important factors to consider. They are primarily herbivores, omnivores or carnivores and must be fed the proper food and supplements to ensure their health.
Insectivores like leopard geckos and blue tongue skinks require feeder insects such as worms, crickets, and flies to sustain their nutritional needs. However, these insects need to be “gut loaded” with a nutritious mix of vegetables and grains before feeding them to reptiles to prevent them from becoming malnourished.
Many reptiles are able to be easily handled, and the right cage can help you enjoy handling them. A well-made escape proof cage can be used to promote natural behaviors and allow the owner to interact with their pet. When the animal is being handled, it is important to be sure that your hands are clean to avoid causing any physical or mental stress. It is also important to avoid disturbing the reptile during sensitive times such as when it is hibernating or undergoing skin shedding.
Reptiles can show affection to their owners if they are able to develop trust and bonds with them. Most of the time, a pet reptile will show affection by staying close to you and looking at you when you’re interacting with it. They can also display affection by extending their necks or leaning into your touch. They may even follow you around their enclosure for a while.
Although most people think that they can’t get attached to a reptile, many of them are surprised to find out how affectionate some of these animals really are. It’s important to note, however, that reptiles have a different way of showing affection than most other species, such as dogs and cats. They will often sit in one place and look at you or will stay a few steps behind you.
In addition, reptiles are known for their affection towards their young and will spend ten weeks protecting their eggs. They will also show a lot of love to their babies by giving them kisses and patting them on the head.
Some of the most affectionate reptiles include snakes, frogs, and amphibians. In fact, a few of these creatures even have ways to transfer heat through their skin and use pheromones to communicate with other members of their species. They can even use these pheromones to attract females.