Reptile Facts

Reptiles are vertebrates, which are animals that breathe air and have specialized skin made up of either scales or bony plates. They comprise turtles, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and tortoises. 

The outer layer of their skin is shed regularly. Temperature influences their metabolic rate. They exist on every continent, except Antarctica, and are the animal kingdom’s most diverse species.

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Reptile Facts for Kids

  • All reptiles lay shelled eggs; they’re called invertebrates
  • A reptile breathes air.
  • They have bony shells or are covered in scales.
  • A majority are cold-blooded.
  • The most diverse reptiles are snakes and lizards.
  • Most eat insects and small animals.

Types of Reptiles


Turtles have hard shells that protect them against predators. 

These reptiles are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles in the animal kingdom, having evolved many millions of years ago. 

Turtles can be found in nearly every type of climate.

“Turtle,” “tortoise” and “terrapin” It should be noted, however, that there are distinct differences between the types of chelonians. 

Turtles – Most of their lives are spent in water. Their body and legs are streamlined, so they thrive in aquatic environments. They rarely leave the water, except to lay eggs. 

There are 7 species of sea turtle, they lay eggs in nests which they dig into the sand with their rear flippers. They typically lay 100-125 eggs at a time.

A female leatherback sea turtle finds the location where it originally hatched and will return to it to lay her own eggs.

A freshwater turtle lives in ponds and lakes, basking peacefully in the warm sun on logs and stones.

Tortoises – are animals that live on land. The feet have rounded, stumpy toes with deep pads perfect for walking on land. 

Their strong forelimbs enable them to dig burrows, to slip underground when it gets uncomfortably hot.

Terrapins – live on both land and water and are usually found in marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, and rivers. They can be found in warm tropical areas of South-east Asia and Central America.


One of the biggest reptiles in the world is the saltwater crocodile. They can grow to over 20 feet tall (6 meters) and weigh over a ton.

Europe is the only continent where they are not found.

Even though they belong to the reptile family, crocodiles closely resemble the dinosaur.

Their jaws can be opened underwater thanks to a valve at the back of their throats.

They usually live between 30 and 40 years.

Their night vision is great, so they like to hunt at night.

They are able to reach speeds up to 15 km per hour (9.3 mph) while swimming.


Snakes make up the second-largest group of reptiles after lizards, with 3,700 known species. 

You might have learned in school that reptiles lay eggs. However, not all snakes lay eggs. Because the eggs wouldn’t survive outside, snakes in colder climates have live births.

You won’t find them in Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Their tongues are used to smell different things. Snakes have nostrils, but they don’t use them to smell like other animals because they can smell with their tongues. 

There are multiple receptors on their tongue that can pick up various amounts of chemical cues.

A snake’s lower jaw unhinges from its upper jaw when it’s capturing prey.

A snake sheds its skin about once a month, a process called ecdysis to help remove parasites. It rubs against a branch or other object. The snake then slithers out of the older skin, leaving the old one behind.

Types of Venomous Snakes are Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths/Water Moccasins, and Coral snake

The Boa constrictor is non-venomous and normally subdues its prey by squeezing or constricting it to death.

Pythons, bullsnakes, and kingsnakes are other non venomous snakes.


A typical lizard has a small head, a long body and a long tail. 

There are many species of lizard, so it’s no wonder they come in various sizes. 

The biggest lizard is the Komodo dragon. It can grow anywhere up to 10 feet long and weigh around 176 pounds.

Almost all lizards are harmless to humans. Komodo Dragons, Mexican Beaded Lizards, and Gila Monsters are only clinically poisonous lizards.

The very biggest lizard species pose the greatest potential danger to human life. 

The lizard is a favorite pet for many people.

Almost all lizards live on the ground, but some make their homes in trees, burrows, and even water. 

Their diet includes fruits and plants, insects, birds, amphibians, carrion, and plants.

A lizard spends a considerable amount of time seeking out food. Many of them, including Iguanian lizards, hang out in familiar spots and usually wait for prey.

What else do reptiles do?

Certain reptiles can go months without eating.

This is true for large constrictor snakes.

They have a tendency to eat huge meals and since they have a slower metabolism than people, it takes a long time to digest the food.

Crocodiles and alligators are considered reptiles and the crocodile can’t stick out its tongue.


What does cold-blooded mean?

The body temperature of cold-blooded animals is rarely constant. In order to maintain body heat, they lay out in the sun. 

Because reptiles lose less energy keeping warm, they need to eat as much.

What is the oldest snake in the world?

At the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri, they have a ball pythons snake. It’s estimated that the ball python is more than 62 years old.

What are the 4 types of reptiles?

Reptilia includes four groups of extant animals. These are Crocodilia (crocodiles and alligators), Squamata (lizards and snakes), Testudines (turtles), and Sphenodontia (tuataras)

How many different kinds of reptiles are there?

It is estimated that there are more than 8,200 different species of reptiles. The majority of which are either snakes or lizards.

What do most reptiles eat?

Almost all are carnivorous. They eat things like insects, birds, frogs, mollusks, fishes, and occasionally other reptiles

A land tortoise’s diet includes leaves, grass, and other plants.

What is the smallest reptile?

The Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, is only 13.5 mm long. This tiny little guy is one of 11,500 known species of reptiles.

Brookesia nana

Other Fun Reptile facts

  • They are ‘cold-blooded’ which means that they do not have the natural ability to keep themselves warm or regulate their body temperature.
  • One of the longest-lived species on the planet is reptiles. The Aldabra tortoise can live to over 150 years and alligators have an average life span of seventy years. The Ball python snake can live to be forty years old.
  • Snakes are reptiles and almost two-thirds of the world’s snakes are non-venomous. Of the five hundred species of snakes that are venomous, only thirty to forty are harmful to people. When you do the math, that means only two percent of the world’s snakes are harmful to people.
  • Although the information showed that only a small percentage of snakes are venomous, this is not the case in Australia.
  • There are more venomous than non-venomous snakes there and Australia holds the record as being the only continent where this situation exists.
  • In the United States, more people die of bee stings (both from allergic reaction and quantity of stings) than those that die from snake bites.
  • The single most dangerous reptile is the Komodo Dragon. While it is large, it is somewhat slow-moving. The Komodo Dragon has the most bacteria in its mouth than any other creature. One bite can cause an infection that enters the body and will kill even the largest animal. The Komodo Dragon doesn’t chase the prey, once bitten, it just slowly tracks it until it finds it dead.