Sunday, 20 November 2011

Reptiles & Amphibians !

Some of our most wild, exciting and fascinating creatures on Earth have to be the reptiles. Today, there are nearly 7,000 reptile species on our planet - reptiles being some of the oldest living species ever recorded. Reptiles fall into the classification of "Reptilia." The main reptilian groups of animals are:
  • Alligators and Crocodiles
  • Lizards
  • Turtles and Tortoises
  • Snakes
Animals from the main groups found in North America - alligatorsturtleslizards,and snakes - have their own unique characteristics.
Jackson Chameleon

Frilled Lizard
All reptiles are vertebrates (animals with backbones). Their bodies are covered with horned scales or plates known as"scutes."
In some lizards, the scales are small, smooth and grain-like, while in others they are large, rough and more plate-like. The scales may have little ridges known askeels. Some have even developed into spines.
Want to read up on Frogs
and other Amphibians?
Click here to view!
Reptiles are cold-blooded creatures, many of which rely upon the sun's warmth to help them survive.

California Desert Tortoise - Santa Barbara Zoo
Most turtles and tortoises have scales on their heads and the legs, but the rest of the body is usually encased in a rounded, bony shell. The upper portion of the shell, called the carapace, includes the spine and the ribs. It is joined to the lower part, known as the plastron, by a bridge of bone. Most turtles and tortoises can easily pull their heads straight back into their shells.
Most of our reptilian friends are built low to the ground, giving them traction capabilities for an easier escape! Most reptiles, with the exception of snakes and lizards, have four legs.
Green Iguana
When it comes to reproduction, most reptiles are egg-layers, although, there are those who do give birth to live young.

Blandings Turtle
The bottom shell of some turtles, such asBox Turtles and the Blanding's Turtle, is hinged and can be pulled up against the top shell, sealing the turtle safely inside.

Ornate Box Turtle
The individual plates on a turtle's shell are called scutes, some of which can be quite colorful.
Both the American Alligator and theAmerican Crocodile have oblong, aerodynamic, torpedo-shaped bodies, which means they live well in the water. Both have keen vision and sharp hearing. When they dive under water, their nostrils close, and a clear membrane closes sideways across their eyes, thus protecting them.

American Crocodile

American Alligator
A wide flap closes the rear of the throat so that they don't drown when they're pulling prey underwater. The nostrils and eyes of crocodilians are perched on top of their heads, so they are able to see and breathe while almost entirely submerged.
Different lizard species have developed special features to help them survive in different habitats.

Young Bearded Dragons
Unlike snakes, some lizards, especially burrowers, have very small legs or no legs at all. Most lizards see and hear well. They have external ear openings and their eyes have movable eyelids. Some lizards have athird eye, which is a tiny, light-sensitive, transparent structure on top of the head that helps them regulate how long they stay in the sun.

Certain types of Monitor Lizards have stout bodies and bead-like scales. They stores fat in their thick tails and can survive without food for long periods of time in harsh desert conditions.

Nile Monitor

Monitor Lizard
Transparent eye caps protect the lidless eyes of various snakes. The transparent eye caps really help to protect these creatures from blinding light and other various types of danger. Want to read up on Frogs and other Amphibians? Click here to view!

Boa Constrictor - They Constrict Their Prey
Snakes are unique and fascinating animals. They have no eyelids, external ears, shoulders, or legs. Yet they live successfully without these body parts. Their slender body shape makes us realize that the insides of their bodies are very different from most animals, as well.With the exception of Antartica, snakes live on all continents of the world. Most snakes are egg layers, although some give birth to live young. Snakes are some of the most fascinating, amazing and misunderstood animals on the planet.
Snakes have large scales across their bellies, and smaller scales on the back. The back scales may have a smooth, polished appearance, or they may have a dull finish and a rough texture. The scales on water snakes have ridges, or keels (like some lizards), which help them move through water. Snakes that spend a lot of time burrowing have smooth scales, which enable them to move more easily through the soil.

Green Tree Boa
Because snakes cannot hear airborne sounds, their forked tongues work as a sensor in order to serve them. In essence, a snake "tastes" its surroundings, which helps it to follow scent trails or move out of harms way.Approximately 300 snake species are venomous. In most cases, the snake's teeth (fangs) are hollow, and carry the poison inside them. When the snake bites, it then injects the venom into its victim. Anacondas are much like Boa Constrictors. They constrict their prey before consumption.

Green Anaconda

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