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of the Animal Kingdom
Living on Planet Earth
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 Reptiles
are part of the Animal Kingdom.
The other animal classes include:
mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, and
 All
members of the kingdom of animals
have one thing in common—they have a
mouth or similar method of ingesting food.
If they absorb food they belong to
another kingdom of life.
 Have
mouths to ingest food
 Have vertebrae to support their bodies
 Are cold-blooded
 Breathe with lungs
 Have skin with scales or plates
 Reptiles
are vertebrates.
This means they have a
backbone made up of
vertebrae and cartilage
that give them shape
and helps them to turn.
 Muscles
and ligaments are attached to
the skeleton, which includes vertebrae
and other bones, and holds the internal
organs in place.
 Reptiles
are cold-blooded.
They rely on the warmth of
the sun, and their
surroundings to control their
temperature. Cold-blooded
animals don't depend upon
food to keep them warm just
to help them grow and to
maintain life.
 Except
for the land and the
waters of the continent of
Antarctica, reptiles have
been found throughout the
world. They live on land
and in both fresh and salt
 Cold-blooded
species have different
methods of surviving very cold or hot
temperatures. Some species, such as
snakes found in parts of Canada, are
able to hibernate. Sea turtles are able
to migrate to warm tropical waters in
the winter.
 Reptiles
breathe air into lungs. The heart
moves oxygen from the lungs into the
blood. Each heart beat pushes blood
throughout the body.
 The body’s skeleton, organs and muscles
depend upon good oxygen circulation
from the heart and the lungs.
 Reptiles
have a tough, waterproof skin
covered by scales or plates. These scales
or plates are like the nails of our fingers
and toes. They are lightweight, flexible
and strong. They’re made from a protein
that grows up from the skin and harden as
they develop.
 Snakes
shed their skin as one
piece in a single day. The
old skin rolls off inside-out
like a tube sock. A crocodile
will drop its scales and
plates one at a time as
each new replacement
grows from its skin. Turtles
grow new layers.
 There
are at least 8,000 reptile species
living on land and in water. We’ll look at
some characteristics that make reptiles
different from other animals.
 We’ll also learn some of the special
features animals possess to adapt and
survive in the wild.
 Many
species lay eggs while a few give
live births after incubating and hatching
their eggs internally. Egg-laying reptiles
rely on the warmth and moisture of their
surroundings to develop the young animal
inside themselves.
 Some
snakes will lay their eggs in hot spots
such as compost heaps. Python snakes
will incubate eggs by wrapping their body
around them and twitching their muscles
to generate heat. Many water snakes
give live births.
 Reptiles
have very good
eyesight for hunting.
Their eyes are located
almost on the sides of
their head giving them a
wide sight range. The
only place they cannot
see is directly behind
 Many
reptiles know something is around
them by feeling vibrations with their
bodies. Not all species hear airborne
vibrations with ears. Some reptiles don’t
have any ears. Others, like crocodiles,
can keep water out by closing their ears.
 Some
reptiles, such as lizards and snakes,
catch scent particles with their tongues.
They taste the “smell” with a special
organ in their mouth. Many others have a
snout or nose and breathe scents in the
 Many
reptiles have keen senses and highly
evolved instinctual hunting skills. They are
not affectionate and will bite the hand that
feeds them.
 An alligator will study the habits of a prey
animal. When it’s hungry it will be ready to
capture the unsuspecting animal that has
become comfortable in its surroundings.
Finding Food
 Reptiles
that find and hunt other animals
are called carnivores because they eat
Finding Food
 These
hunters have keen senses and
strong bodies. They often hunt animals
that are larger than themselves. Alligators
and crocodiles will eat anything they can
Finding Food
 Animals
that eat only
plants found growing in
their ecosystem are
called herbivores. Most
reptiles are omnivorous,
eating meat if available,
and plants that provide
nutrition and water.
 Some
lizards, such as the chameleon,
change color to match the background
or show its mood. The camouflage of
Leaf-tailed geckos protects them from
predators by appearing to be patches of
lichen growing on bark.
 Very
young American alligators have
yellow striping that helps them blend into
the marsh grasses.
Webbed Toes
 Animals
that spend a lot
of time in the water
have webbed toes to
help them swim faster.
This characteristic and
the use their long tail
help make alligators
and crocodiles fast
Webbed Toes
 Sea
turtles have flippers instead of
webbed feet.
 Lizards
and snakes are the largest group
of reptiles. Lizards are four legged animals
with a long tail. Many lizards can shed
their tail to escape from predators. They
can then grow a new tail.
Magnetic Senses
 Sea
turtles may have the ability to sense
magnetic fields of the earth. They travel
great distances in the ocean throughout
their lives. When they mature, they return
to the beach where they were hatched
and bury their eggs in the same area.
 Sea
turtles migrate to warmer waters not
only to lay eggs, but to stay warm and
find good sources of food.
reptile will hide in mud, sand, tree holes
or other insulated places to keep safe
from climate conditions and predators.
They can slow down body functions for
long periods of time to survive extreme
cold, heat and drought.
 Others
will go into a state of torpor for
shorter periods, reducing their heart rate
and other bodily functions when the air or
water temperatures drop.
Chemical Release
 The
skin glands of the tuatara contain
chemicals that may help it communicate
with other animals and fight off skin fungi
that expose the skin to disease.
 Snakes have a pair of anal scent glands
that help them attract mates, protect
against predators, and mark their territory.
Poison Defenses
 Gila
monsters and
some snakes inject lifethreatening poisonous
venom into their prey
with a bite.
 Some
snakes have special pits located
between their eyes and nostrils that sense
small changes in temperature. These pit
viper snakes usually hunt at night and this
special sense helps them locate warmblooded prey.
 Some
snakes grab prey
with their mouths. Then
they wrap their long
strong bodies around the
animal crushing it until it
stops breathing. Snakes
are able to open their
jaws to swallow a very
large animal whole.
 There
are many
interesting characteristics
found among all the
animal species. It’s fun to
learn what they have in
common and some of
the things that make
them different.
 We
hope you enjoyed learning about the
Reptiles of the Animal Kingdom.
 Crocodiles
and Alligators
 Lizards and Tuataras
 Snakes
 Turtles and Tortoises
of the Animal Kingdom
Images Courtesy of:
Microsoft Clipart
Contributions from staff members,
and others as identified.
Copyright 2010
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of the Animal Kingdom
Living on Planet Earth