When people think about reptiles, they usually think about big snakes or a giant lizard walking slowly. Did you know that turtles are reptiles, too? There’s a lot of misconception about reptiles, partly due to how they are represented in various media. Some reptile species are being mistaken to be a part of the amphibians and vice versa. In this article, the ten main characteristics of reptiles will be featured.

What is a reptile?

A reptile is an animal that belongs to class Reptilia under the Chordata phylum. As of now, there are over 8,700 reptilian species discovered worldwide. According to the World Atlas, the first-ever reptile evolved 320 million years ago. Later on, these organisms adapted living on dry land. Reptiles learned to survive in their new surroundings by developing numerous defense mechanisms like biting, camouflage, and smartly avoiding dangers.

The reptilian class is one of the most diverse organisms on Earth. You can find them in the land habitats, on trees, and even on water. There are some reptile species such as crocodiles that are closely related to birds, showing how the two classes diverged from the same species years ago.

10 characteristics of reptiles

1. Covered with scales (or scutes)

One of the most notable characteristics of reptiles is their scales which covers all their body. This outmost layer acts as a skin and is made out of protein keratin. Instead of scales, turtles have shells called scutes, which is unique because it also composed of bones. Scales and scutes serve both as protection and help in the preservation of water in a reptile’s body.

2. There are four types

As of now, there are four main types of reptiles existing in the wild.

  • Turtles – first appeared 200 million years ago. Their main feature is their protective shell called the carapace.
  • Squamata – this type includes species of lizards and snakes. Squamata is the largest order of reptiles existing right now.
  • Crocodilians – consists of crocodiles and alligators. Crocodilians are an extremely ancient lineage of reptiles, in which only 23 species are remaining.
  • Tuatara – reptile group that consists of lizards endemic to New Zealand. These reptiles are part of the Rhynchocephalia order and grow up to 80 cm from head to tail-tip.

3. Cold-blooded animals

Reptiles, similar to amphibians, are called ectothermic or cold-blooded animals. It doesn’t mean that reptiles and amphibians have freezing blood inside their body. Instead, these species cannot produce their body heat and relies a lot on outside factors to control their temperature. When a drastic change of temperature happens, this can become problematic to reptilian and amphibian species.

4. Egg-laying organisms

The majority of reptiles are amniotes or species that develop inside an egg during its embryo stage. Fertilization can take place internally or externally. A very small minority of reptiles are viviparous or species that give birth to the offsprings. Most viviparous reptiles are snakes and lizards, such as the antenatal anaconda and Jackson’s chameleon.

5. Some reptiles can go into “brumation.”

Brumation refers to the state of cold-blooded animals, similar to hibernation. This happens when the weather is very cold, and the animal needs to conserve body heat and energy as much as possible for survival. There are several factors on how long a reptile will undergo hibernation, such as its size and its location. Reptiles in captivity can also undergo brumation if the external conditions alls for it.

6. Most have four limbs

Since reptiles are descendants of a four-limbed ancestor (in other words, an extinct dinosaur), the newer generations got to keep their legs. There are exceptions to this rule, as most snakes don’t evolve with four limbs.  According to National Geographic, earlier species of snakes used to have limbs, but its modern counterpart evolved without them. The gene for limb regrowth is still in some snakes species.

7. Reptiles are vertebrates

Being a part of the group of species with vertebrates, reptiles have similar characteristics with mammals, birds, and some amphibians. An example of this is the existence of a spinal cord and an endoskeleton with cranium and limb girdles. This endoskeleton serves both as a protective body part, as well as an aid for locomotion.

8. Variation of respiration among species

Like any organism, reptiles need oxygen in their body to function and survive. And like mammals and amphibians, reptiles use a respiratory system for harnessing oxygen in the air or water. However, some reptilian respiratory system has some quirks to function properly. There are lizard species that “gulps” air instead of breathing, while crocodiles need to move their liver down to breath. And Scientists still have no idea how the turtles’ respiratory system works.

9. Reptiles can change their colors.

Since the beginning of their existence, reptiles have been known to use camouflage to survive. There are animals like the chameleons who change their appearances to blend with the environment. Meanwhile, scarlet kingsnake mimics the color of other more dangerous animals like the coral snake, even if these species are harmless.

10. Reptiles have diverse morphology

Reptiles have one of the most diverse morphologies in the animal kingdom. Unlike other animals, reptiles have different shapes and body characteristics. From a limbless snake to lizards that can separate their tails, all species of this class have some variances among each other. And not all morphologies are great-looking (see Cantor’s giant softshell or the pig-nosed turtle).

What are the 5 characteristics of reptiles?

Top 5 Characteristics of Reptiles
  • of 05. Reptiles Are Four-Legged Vertebrate Animals.
  • of 05. Most Reptiles Lay Eggs.
  • of 05. The Skin of Reptiles Is Covered With Scales (or Scutes)
  • of 05. Reptiles Have Cold-Blooded Metabolisms.
  • of 05. Reptiles Breathe With the Aid of Lungs.

What are the main features of reptiles?

As opposed to mammals and birds, reptiles have neither fur nor feathers, but scales. Reptiles cannot be confused with amphibians because reptiles have dry, water-proof skin and eggs, as well as more advanced bodily systems. Reptiles evolved from amphibians 300 million years ago.

How do you describe a reptile?

Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates covered in special skin made up of scales, bony plates, or a combination of both. They include crocodiles, snakes, lizards, turtles, and tor- toises. Because of their slow metabolism and heat-seeking behavior, reptiles are cold-blooded.

What is the characteristics of turtles and lizard?

Turtles and tortoises belong to a group of reptiles known as chelonians. They are easily distinguished by their hard shells that protect their upper and lower bodies. The upper covering is known as the carapace, and the bottom portion is called the plastron.

What are the 7 main characteristics of reptiles?

Traits of Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Reptiles are vertebrates. They have backbones.
  • Their bodies are completely covered with scales.
  • They are cold-blooded.
  • Reptiles produce shelled eggs or bear live young.
  • All species fertilize eggs internally.
  • All species of reptiles have at least one lung.

What are the 4 types of reptiles?

The four main reptile groups are the Turtles and Tortoises, Snakes and Lizards, Crocodiles and Alligators, and Tuatara (a single species more primitive than other reptile groups and found only in a group of small islands near New Zealand).

What is biggest reptile?

Reaching lengths of more than 23 feet (6.5 m) and weights over 2,200 pounds (~1,000 kilos), the saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile on the planet and is a formidable predator throughout its range.

What are the classifications of reptiles?

A commonly used classification of reptiles divides them into four groups: Crocodilia, Sphenodontia, Squamata, and Testudines.

What are reptiles similarities and differences?

Difference Between Reptiles and Amphibians
They secrete toxins from their skin to protect themselves from predators.The skin is protected by hard scales, and they also secrete toxin through teeth and nails.
Skin is smooth and highly porous.Skin is dry, hard and scaly.

What are the similarities between birds and reptiles?

We’ll start with the “reptiliansimilarities of birds. Like all other reptiles, birds have scales (feathers are produced by tissues similar to those that produce scales, and birds have scales on their feet). Also, birds lay eggs like other reptiles.

What’s the similarities between reptiles and amphibians?

One of the similarities between reptiles and amphibians is that they are both ectotherms, which means they rely on their environment to control their body temperature. Another similarity is that many, not all, are omnivores or insectivores.

What are the similarities between mammals and reptiles?

Similarities Between Mammals and Reptiles

Both mammals and reptiles have bilateral symmetry. Both mammals and reptiles are tetrapods, having four limbs. Both mammals and reptiles breathe through lungs. The respiratory system of both mammals and reptiles have a pharynx.

What characteristics do reptiles and amphibians share?

For example, they are both ectothermic, or cold-blooded animals, meaning their body temperature relies on the temperature of their habitat. Reptiles and amphibians also are both vertebrate animals, meaning they have backbones. Reptiles and amphibians also both have excellent eyesight that helps them hunt prey.

Is a chicken a reptile?

According to UC Berkeley, chickens are not reptiles but are, in fact, dinosaurs. Using the phylogenetic system of classification, they belong to the clade Dinosauria. Using the traditional Linnean classification system, chickens belong to the group called Galliformes, meaning landfowl.

Do reptiles have teeth?

Snakes, lizards, crocodilians, and tuataras all have teeth. The teeth vary in their form, their attachment, and whether they are shed. Generally, the teeth of herbivorous species are broadly flattened with crushing surfaces.

Do lizard bites hurt?

Do Lizards Bite? Most garden and house lizard bites are harmless however, so though these bites are not poisonous, they can cause pain. They often give warning before they bite, opening their mouths and hissing to encourage the threat to back away.

Do baby reptiles have teeth?

It allows the hatchling to penetrate the eggshell from inside and break free. Birds, reptiles, and monotremes possess egg teeth as hatchlings.

What is unique about reptile skeletons?

As a group, reptilian skulls differ from those of early amphibians. Reptiles have a number of bones in the lower jaw, only one of which, the dentary, bears teeth. Behind the dentary a small bone, the articular, forms a joint with the quadrate bone near the rear of the skull.

What is an interesting fact about reptiles?

Reptiles are covered in scales or have a bony external plate such as a shell. Nearly all reptiles are cold blooded. The first reptiles are believed to have evolved around 320 million years ago. The size of reptile’s brains relative to their body is much smaller than that of mammals.

What advantages do reptiles have?

Reptiles are ectotherms: they depend on their surrounding environment to control their body temperature; this leads to advantages, such as not being dependent on metabolic energy from food for body heat. Reptiles are also poikilotherms: animals whose body temperatures vary rather than remain stable.

What is unique about the internal structure of all reptiles?

Most reptiles have a three-chamber heart that has two atria and one partially divided ventricle. Reptiles regulate their body temperature by using behavioral adaptations; they control their body temperature by changing their location throughout the day. All reptiles breathe through their lungs.