40+ Remarkable Reptile Facts

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Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Shu

Reptiles truly are remarkable creatures. There are so many interesting facts about reptiles that it was hard to choose between them! Whether you fear them or love them, reptiles are an integral part of ecosystems across the globe.

These colorful creatures come in every size you can think of. Their defences range from being highly evolved to impressively prehistoric, and all of these factors make reptiles undeniably interesting. We can’t wait to share all the reptile facts we’ve found.

With over 10,000 species of reptiles currently in existence and new species being discovered on occasion, there is an endless stream of information available about these cold-blooded critters. Here is a curated list of 15 remarkable reptile facts that you have likely never heard of.

15 Interesting Facts About Reptiles

1.     Herpetology means the study of reptiles.

This funny-sounding word is specific to the study of reptiles and amphibians, as professionals in these areas generally have interdisciplinary focuses of study. You may not need to use the word herpetology regularly, but when you do, people are sure to be impressed and maybe even confused.

2.    Reptiles inhabit every continent except Antarctica.

If you are scared of scaly critters, then this fact may feel a bit overwhelming. If you know where to look, you are sure to find some type of reptile on every continent. Many small islands are also home to unique reptile species, even when they are far offshore from large continents.

3.    Many reptiles shed their skin, but some also eat it.

Leopard geckos and a number of other reptile species eat their own shed skin. This may sound weird until you consider how much energy and nutrients are recycled through this process.

4.    Reptiles can climb, dig, swim, run, and even walk on water!

A lizard species commonly referred to as the Jesus lizard is known to run on top of the water. Basilisk lizards run across the water using only their hind legs, with intense speed and a motion that keeps them above the surface, as if by magic. 

5.    Some reptiles dine under the water.

Sure, anacondas catch some prey under the water, and there are plenty of turtle species that eat beneath the water’s surface, but the Galapagos iguana has an impressive submerged dining routine. This large lizard is the only sea diving lizard in the world. They jump into the ocean and dive deep to enjoy marine vegetation that grows on submerged rocks.

6.    Lizards can communicate through push-ups.

Lizards are not well known for their ability to vocalize, so how do they communicate amongst their own kind? The answer is a push-up contest! This may sound silly, but some lizard species, like the lava lizard, do pushups to show rival males how big and strong they are, and sometimes this form of communication is used to impress the ladies.

7.    Crocodilians are devoted mothers.

These prehistoric predators may be cold-blooded, but they are also loving mothers. Unlike many other species of reptiles, mother crocodilians protect their nests and even protect their young for some time after they hatch. If you ever hear a baby crocodilian cry, you should run because momma is on her way.

8.    Dropping a limb is a valid defense in the reptile world.

Have you ever seen a tailless lizard? That is because some species of lizard can drop their tails when threatened. This drastic measure can distract a predator and save the lizard’s life. Even more impressive is the ability some lizard species have to grow their tail back! 

9.    Tortoises have orbited the moon.

Don’t worry, tortoises only fell from the sky once, and it was part of a controlled scientific experiment run by Russia in 1968. The turtles on board orbited the moon and made their way back to the earth over the course of a few days. Despite a few spacecraft malfunctions, the tortoises made it back to earth safely, where they lived out the rest of their lives.

10. Galapagos tortoises are the oldest living reptile species on record, reaching 175 years old.

The Galapagos tortoise is a unique and amazing creature. They are only found in the Galapagos, and they commonly grow to be older than most people. These tortoises start their lives at the size of a ping-pong ball, and they can grow up to be over 500 pounds and up to 175 years old.

11.  A reptilian species exists that looks like a cross between a snake and a turtle.

The Roti Island Snake Neck Turtle has an appearance that is sure to leave an impression. From the neck up, this semi-aquatic reptile looks like a snake, and from the neck down, it has the body of a freshwater turtle. The yellow rings in its eyes and its wide grin only add to its odd appearance. 

12.  Not all turtles have hard shells.

Softshell turtles may be less common than their hard-shelled counterparts, but they do exist. Cantor’s giant softshell is one such turtle, and its soft body creates a unique look, making them appear like a cross between a turtle and a burnt pancake.

13. Imagine a crocodilian with a comically thin snout, this unique creature exists, and it is endangered.

A gharial is an extremely unique and endangered species of crocodilian. Their snouts are full of large teeth, but unlike their distant Nile Crocodile cousins, their snouts are oddly slim. While this odd snout can create a nasty bite, these reptiles primarily hunt and consume fish.

14.  The Toadhead Agama is a master of putting on a frightening show. 

At first glance, a Toadhead Agama is nothing but a cute dusty little lizard, but they can put on quite a show if they get scared. This species has unique folds in its cheeks that allow it to open and expand its mouth in a threat display that looks like something out of a horror film. This little lizard completes its threat display with some bold movements, making it a seemingly undesirable prey item for larger animals.

15.  Legless lizards are not snakes, though they look very similar.

Legless lizards are just that, lizards without legs. If you were ever to hold one, you would notice how their bodies are not as flexible as a snake and how their heads are shaped much differently. These odd critters are not great at striking in defense or making speedy escapes, so sometimes their most beneficial defense includes rolling away.

Unusual Facts About Reptiles

  • Reptiles are thought to have been in existence for 320 million years
  • Reptiles don’t sweat which is why their skin is scaly and dry
  • The saltwater crocodile is the heaviest type of reptile
  • Alligators only live in the United States and China
  • Snakes are immune to their own venom
  • Tuataras are rare reptiles found only in New Zealand

Fun Facts About Reptiles

  • Most reptiles lay eggs
  • Sea Turtles can sleep underwater
  • Crocodiles live between 35-75 years
  • Most snakes won’t hurt humans
  • Snakes smell with their tongue
  • Reptiles are the oldest species on Earth

Weird Facts About Reptiles

  • Crocodiles lose their teeth frequently and may go through as many as 4000 teeth in their lifetime
  • Turtles can be both vegetarians and meat eaters depending on the species
  • All reptiles are cold-blooded
  • Chameleons can change their colour to reflect changes in their mood
  • Most reptiles don’t chew their food
  • More Americans die from bee stings than snake bites

Reptile Facts for Kids

  • Crocodiles can go for a year without eating
  • Tortoises are a type of turtle that can live exclusively on land
  • Only one type of lizard can swim
  • Gecko’s eyes are much more sensitive to light than human’s eyes
  • Snakes don’t have eyelids
  • An alligator’s bite is stronger than a lion’s bite

Final Thoughts about Reptile Facts

These facts are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discovering the interesting intricacies that exist amongst reptile species. There is so much to learn and love about the reptiles that we share our planet with, and with human influences impacting the survival of many reptile species, there is no better time to learn about and get involved with these fantastic creatures!

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