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Largest living reptiles (16 Examples Ranked)

Reptiles are an incredibly diverse group of animals that can be found on six out of the seven continents. There are reptiles that live in our oceans, our lakes and rivers, on land, underground and up in the trees. They come in all sorts of colors, patterns and of course sizes. There are some species of reptiles that are not much bigger than the tip of your finger, but in this article we will be covering some of the world’s largest living reptiles.

It should come as no surprise that many of the leaders on this list belong to the crocodile family. Crocodilians are some of the oldest living reptiles, with ancestors dating back over 200 million years. Their massive size is a result of millions of years of evolution, adapting to be apex predators in their environments. Their growth is continuous throughout their lives, allowing them to reach incredible lengths and weights. This evolutionary success has cemented their place as some of the largest and most formidable reptiles on the planet.

1 Saltwater crocodile

Saltwater crocodile
Saltwater crocodile

At the top of this list is the saltwater crocodile. They can grow to be as large as 20 feet long and males can grow to be well over one ton! Their size isn’t the only thing impressive about them though, these giants also have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom and can apply 3,700 pounds of pressure per square inch. Saltwater crocs can be found in parts of Southeast Asia and Australia.

2 Gharial

Gharial
Gharial | Image by Petr Stěhule from Pixabay

Gharials are another species of crocodilian known for their long, narrow snouts and bulbous nasal appendages. They are found in freshwater in northern India and Nepal and are sadly critically endangered due to habitat loss, depletion of prey, and poaching. They can grow to be between 12 and 20 feet long and up to 2,000 pounds, with males growing much larger than females.

3 Leatherback sea turtle

Leatherback sea turtle
Leatherback sea turtle | image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The largest of all sea turtles, the leatherback is a true giant of the ocean. Adults can reach lengths exceeding 6.6 feet and weigh close to 2,000 pounds. Leatherback sea turtles are the heaviest reptile aside from crocodilians.

4 Nile crocodile

Nile crocodile
Nile crocodile

With a range spanning much of Africa, the Nile crocodile is the continent’s largest freshwater predator. These reptiles can grow up to nearly 20 feet in length and weigh over 1,500 pounds. Like their other relative, the saltwater croc, Nile crocodiles have an incredible bite force.

5 Black caiman

black caiman | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Caiman are a type of crocodilian that is most closely related to alligators. While most caiman species are smaller than alligators, the black caiman is the exception to this rule. The black caiman grows to be between 7 and 14 feet long and can weigh up to 1100 lbs, with males being larger than females however there have been some males that have measured in at over 16 feet. Black caiman are native to South America and are found throughout the Amazon river basin.

6 American crocodile

American crocodile swimming | image by: Big Cypress National Preserve

The American crocodile is another crocodilian to make this list. These crocs are native to Central America, the Caribbean and southern Florida. In fact, south Florida is the only place where you can encounter both alligators and crocodiles. On average, males are typically between 10 and 14 feet and can weigh up to almost 900 pounds and females may grow as large as nearly 13 feet long.

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7 Galapagos tortoise

Galapagos Tortoise
Galapagos Tortoise | Image by Penny from Pixabay

Endemic to the Galápagos Islands, these iconic tortoises are among the largest reptiles in the world and are certainly the largest species of tortoise. Some individuals have been recorded weighing over 880 pounds and living for more than a century. The average Galápagos tortoise is typically closer to 300-600 pounds with males growing larger than females.

8 Green anaconda

Found in the murky waters of South America, the green anaconda holds the title of the world’s heaviest snake. Specimens have been recorded exceeding 16 feet in length and weighing over 550 pounds. Green anacondas are known to take down deer, capybaras and other animals that venture down to the water to drink.

9 Aldabra giant tortoise

Aldabra giant tortoise
Aldabra giant tortoise | image by 5of7 via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

As the name would suggest, the Aldabra giant tortoise is another large species of tortoise. They are found in the Seychelles, an archipelago off of eastern Africa. These large tortoises can grow over 550 pounds and on average live between 80 and 120 years, making them one of the world’s longest living reptiles!

10 American alligator

American alligator
American alligator resting on grass

American alligators, like their relatives on this list, are large, apex predators in the Southeastern United States. They can grow to be as large as 15 feet long and can weigh well over 500 pounds with males growing larger than females. However, the average alligator is typically between 8 and 11 feet long.

11 Komodo dragon

Komodo Dragon on seashore
Komodo Dragon on seashore | image by Adhi Rachdian via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world, growing up to 10 feet from head to tail. Typically, they weigh in around 150 pounds, but one individual found weighed over 360 pounds! These giant lizards are only found in the Komodo Islands in Indonesia, but have smaller relatives called monitor lizards that can be found in other parts of Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia and now in Florida as invasive species.

12 Green sea turtle

image: Wildlifeinformer.com | Green Sea Turtle

Like their cousin the leatherback sea turtle, the green sea turtle is another large marine turtle. They are typically between 3-4 feet long and between 300 and 350 pounds, however there have been individuals as large as 500 pounds. They are found in waters virtually world-wide except for near the northern and southern poles.

13 Reticulated python

A reticulated python
A reticulated python | image by Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The reticulated python is the largest snake but by length. They have been known to grow as long as 25 feet, however specimens this large are uncommon. While rare, reticulated pythons have been known to actually eat a few unlucky people. They are found throughout Southeast Asia in a wide variety of habitat types, even in large cities like Bangkok.

14 Burmese python

Burmese python on tree
Burmese python on tree | image by Everglades National Park via Flickr

Burmese pythons are one of the longest species of snake, growing in some cases over 16 feet and over 200 pounds. These large constrictors are native to Southeast Asia, but have been introduced to south Florida and wreak havoc on the native ecosystems there.

15 Indian rock python

Indian Rock Python
Indian Rock Python | image by Swaroop C H via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

A close relative to the Burmese python, the Indian rock python is another large constrictor. As the name would suggest, they are native to the Indian subcontinent. These snakes typically grow to be between 8 and 10 feet but in rare cases can grow closer to 15+ feet and over 100 pounds.

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16 King cobra

King cobra striking position
King cobra striking position | image credit: Max Jones @thekingcobrareport

There are few snakes as impressive or iconic as the King cobra, known for their hood that they display when threatened. King cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world with most growing to be between 8 and 13 feet long, however the longest one on record was approximately 19 feet long. King cobras are native to Southeast Asia and can be found in many different habitat types.