Facts about reptiles

  • Beneath their scales reptiles have a watertight skin that allows them to exist on dry land, unlike their amphibian counterparts

  • Nearly all reptiles lay shelled eggs

  • Reptiles breathe air

  • Most reptiles have three-chambered hearts

  • Reptiles are covered in scales or have a bony external plate such as a shell

  • Nearly all reptiles are cold blooded

  • The size of reptile’s brains relative to their body is much smaller than that of mammals

  • Reptiles use a variety of methods to defend themselves from dangerous situations, such as avoidance, camouflage, hissing and biting

  • Lizard and snake species make up the largest number of different reptiles

  • Reptiles evolved from amphibians

  • In some reptiles, sex is determined by temperature

What are reptiles?

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 tortoises. All regularly shed the outer layer of their skin. Their metabolism depends on the temperature of their environment.


Unlike birds and mammals, reptiles do not maintain a constant internal body temperature. Without fur or feathers for insulation, they cannot stay warm on a cold day, and without sweat glands or the ability to pant, they cannot cool off on a hot one. Instead, they move into the sun or into the shade as needed. During cooler parts of the year they become inactive. Because of their slow metabolism and heat-seeking behavior, reptiles are cold-blooded.


Reptiles first appeared in the fossil record 315 million years ago and were the dominant animals during the Mesozoic era, which lasted for 270 million years until the extinction of the dinosaurs.

You can learn more about the reptiles at the Jungle Zoo by clicking on the images below: