Reptiles are cold blooded, scale covered vertebrates. Many species of reptiles look a little prehistoric. In fact, most dinosaurs could be classified as reptiles, and reptilian fossils that date back to over 300 million years. Reptiles existed well before any of the mammals we know today. Currently, there are four main types of reptiles: the turtles and tortoises, lizards and skinks, snakes, and crocodiles and alligators. In this article, we’ll explore 25 examples of reptiles with pictures and facts.
What exactly is a reptile?
Some of the defining characteristics of reptiles are that they are vertebrates (have a spine), breathe air, and have a dry skin that is usually covered in scales or boney plates. Typically they lay eggs on land that have a soft, leathery shell. Reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning they can’t internally regulate their body temperature like mammals.
Like amphibians, this type of animal has a body temperature that varies a lot depending on the temperature of their surrounding environment. Reptiles may control body heat by basking in the sun for warmth, or spending the day sleeping in the shade to stay cool.
Here Are 25 Examples of Reptiles
1. American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
American alligators are one of only two alligator species. The other species, the Chinese alligator, is endemic to China. American alligators are very common in swamps, ponds and lakes in the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. These giant, dinosaur looking creatures never stop growing as they age, and can be over 15 feet long. Alligators are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain, and will eat almost anything they can find. They mainly live in freshwater or brackish water, and can tolerate water temperatures down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
2. Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
The Gopher tortoise is an important keystone species where it is found in the southern United States because it creates burrows that are used by over 350 different species for shelter. These tortoises are highly susceptible to habitat loss and degradation, and for that reason there have been concentrated efforts to conserve them in places like Georgia and Florida.
3. California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae)
The California Kingsnake or “California King” is a nonvenomous snake found in the western United States and Mexico. They are able to live in a wide variety of habitats, and can come in many different color variations. These snakes are commonly kept as pets and are generally great pets for beginners wanting to keep snakes. These snakes are actually ophiophagus, meaning they eat other snakes.
4. Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum)
Not a monster at all, the Gila monster is a large venomous lizard that can be found in the southwestern United States. In fact it is the largest native lizard species in North America north of Mexico, measuring about 20 inches nose to tail. And their tail is about 20% of their body size! While they are venomous, they are rarely a threat to humans due to the fact that they are rather slow-moving and sluggish. Gila monsters are the only venomous species of lizard in the United States.
5. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Western diamondback rattlesnakes (aka Texas diamond-back) are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. These snakes are venomous and are thought to be responsible for the majority of snake bites in the United States. Adults are typically about 4 feet long, with dusky coloring and diamond patterns along the back, and black and white striping at the end of the tail before their rattle. Their venom is mostly hemotoxic, which targets blood cells and the circulatory system, and they are able to deliver a large amount of venom in just one bite.
6. Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
Alligator snapping turtles are not related to alligators except for the fact that they are both reptiles. Instead, they get their name from their powerful jaws and their shell that resembles the scales or “scutes” of an alligator. These turtles are the largest species of freshwater turtle in North America. They can be found in freshwater bodies throughout the Southeast United States.
7. Burmese python (Python bivittatus)
Burmese pythons are some of the largest snakes in the world, growing up to 16 feet long. They are native to Southeast Asia, but have been introduced as an invasive species in Florida. They wreak havoc on the native ecosystems in Southern Florida and have been known to eat virtually any sort of native wildlife.
8. Green anole (Anolis carolinensis)
The Green anole is a small, common species of lizard native to the southeastern United States. These striking lizards can come in shades of lime green but are also known to be quite variable in their coloration and can also be shades of brown. They are arboreal, meaning they spend their time in the trees, even up high.
9. Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)
There are several subspecies of box turtle in the United States. Box turtles are an interesting group of turtles because while they are related to other aquatic or pond-dwelling turtles, they are terrestrial and spend their time on land like tortoises. Eastern Box turtles are found throughout much of the eastern half of the United States.
10. Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)
Corn snakes are beautifully patterned and colorful snakes that can be found in the southeastern and central United States. Their scales come in varied shades of orange, yellow, red and brown. These snakes are also very popular pets due to their docile temperament and for the fact that they are relatively low maintenance. Due to their coloring, they are sometimes mistaken for Copperhead’s, however corn snakes are not venomous and kill their prey instead by constriction.
11. Eastern coral snake (Micrurus fulvius)
This species is native to the southeastern United States although it is a rare find due to the fact that it is nocturnal (active at night) and fossorial (spends much of its time underground). Eastern coral snakes are highly venomous and fall into a group of venomous snakes called elapids which also include Cobras, King Cobras, and Kraits.
12. King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The king of snakes, the King Cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world by length and can grow as long as 19 feet, although most individuals are between 8 and 13 feet long. King Cobras are highly venomous and are able to inject large amounts of venom into their prey. They are native to India and Southeast Asia where they can be found in many different habitats.
13. Blue tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides)
Blue tongued skinks are aptly named for their tongues which come in several shades of blue. They are large lizards and can grow up to about 2 feet long and can weigh as much as 2.5 pounds. Blue tongued skinks are popular amongst reptile keepers. In the wild they can be found in Australia and they are often common in suburban areas.
14. Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
The Leatherback sea turtle is the largest species of turtle in the world. Aside from a few species of crocodiles, it is the largest reptile in the world by weight and can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds or more! Leatherbacks are widely distributed throughout oceans all over the world and have even been known to travel as far north as Norway.
15. Green iguana (Iguana iguana)
Green iguanas, known for their often bright green or orange scales, are large lizards native to South and Central America. However, they are commonly spotted in southern Florida including the Keys, and on several Caribbean Islands where they are an invasive species. Green iguanas have been reported to cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property and infrastructure damage in Florida and are quite the pest! They can reach up to almost 5 feet long when fully grown.
16. Leopard gecko (Eublepharis spp.)
There are several species of Leopard geckos which can be found in India, Nepal and Middle Eastern countries. They live in rocky grasslands and deserts where they hide in sheltered burrows during the day and are active at night. Leopard geckos get their name for the spots all along their body. They are docile lizards with a calm temperament, making them a great pet for beginners.
17. Galápagos tortoise (Chelonoidis spp.)
There are 12 living species of Galápagos tortoises that inhabit the Galápagos Islands. They are the largest species of tortoise in the world, and some can weigh up to 920 pounds! These tortoises are also one of the longest living vertebrates, with recorded lifespans in the wild of over 100 years, and closer to 200 years in captivity. Galápagos tortoises spend many hours a day foraging for plants, which not only makes up their diet but also provides most of the moisture they need.
18. Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
The Red-eared slider is a species of freshwater turtle found in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams in the southeastern United States. However, they have been introduced to many other parts of the world and are the most invasive species of turtle in the world. They are popular as pets which has probably led to their invasive status as many people release them once they grow too large for their tanks or enclosures.
19. Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)
Black mambas are iconic snakes, known for their agility and ability to move quickly. In fact, they can slither up to 12 miles per hour when they feel threatened and want to move quickly. The Black mamba is also equipped with very toxic venom that attacks the nervous system within minutes of being bitten. These snakes are found in arid habitats in much of sub Saharan Africa.
20. Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
Copperheads are a species of venomous pit viper native to the eastern United States. They are commonly found in mixed woodlands and forests but have also been known to inhabit suburban areas which can cause unfortunate run-ins with humans. Despite the fact that they are venomous, they are only dangerous when threatened or scared.
21. Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
Chameleons are famous for their ability to change colors or shades which they do depending on their mood or for camouflage. They are also known for their long, sticky tongue that they shoot out to capture unsuspecting insects. Veiled chameleons are native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but can also be found in southern Florida and Hawaii as an invasive species.
22. Horny toad (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
The Horny toad is not actually a toad but a lizard. They are also known as the Desert horned lizard, which is a more accurate term for them. Horny Toads are native to the dry, desert regions of western America and Mexico. These small lizards have a unique defense mechanism and can actually squirt blood from their eyes when threatened.
23. Bearded dragon (Pogona spp.)
A popular pet, the Bearded dragon is kept by exotic animal keepers worldwide for their calm disposition and hardiness in captivity. There are actually several species of Bearded dragons, all native to Australia. They get their name from the appearance of a beard which they puff out when agitated.
24. Ball python (Python regius)
Unlike some of their other python relatives, the Ball python is a fairly small python and typically does not grow more than 4-5 feet long. This makes them good pets for people that love the look of a python but aren’t able to house a snake that could grow 10 feet plus! In fact, Ball pythons are the most popular pet snake in the world, likely because they are not venomous, are relatively low maintenance, and can do quite well in captivity. Ball pythons are native to West and central Africa where they can be found in grasslands and wooded areas.
25. Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
Painted turtles are the most widely distributed turtle in North America. They can be found in freshwater bodies and slow moving streams throughout much of the United States, southern Canada, and Northern Mexico. Painted turtles are named for the bright yellow, orange and red marking on their shells and body.