Reptile Species

Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates covered with special skin. They include crocodiles, snakes, lizards and turtles.

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The oldest extant clade is Sphenodontia, which includes the tuatara of New Zealand. This group arose in the Late Triassic. Squamata, the most widely distributed reptile order, arose in the Late Permian and contains all known lizards and snakes.

Komodo Dragon

The largest lizards in the world, Komodo Dragons are able to run at 11mph in short bursts and are strong swimmers. They have an acute sense of smell and a unique organ that helps them detect warm-blooded animals.

These carnivores use complex venom to kill their prey. Once a Komodo Dragon bites its victim it will follow it for days, waiting until the animal collapses.

Males fight for females, grappling over territory and attacking each other with their claws and teeth. They will also display courtship behaviors such as rubbing their chins on females and rolling in feces to demonstrate receptivity. Komodo Dragons can reproduce asexually and also through parthenogenesis.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys imbricata) is the largest living sea turtle, and it has one of the widest migratory ranges of any reptile. Its dark skin, large body size, and ability to control blood flow to reduce heat loss allow the leatherback to survive in colder waters.

These sea turtles spend most of their lives at sea and come ashore only to lay eggs. They dig flask-shaped nests at night on sloping beaches and typically lay between 80 and 100 eggs in each clutch.

They are able to dive up to 1,200 metres and have delicate, scissor-like jaws that allow them to consume jellyfish. They are a vulnerable species and the primary threats are incidental bycatch in longlines and gillnets, coastal development, habitat degradation, marine pollution, and watercraft collisions.

Green Anaconda

The Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is one of the largest and heaviest snakes in the world. This carnivorous boa is a non-venomous constrictor that uses its strength to overpower and kill prey. It will coil around its prey and squeeze until it suffocates and dies.

This predator lives primarily in the flooded forest floors, swamps, slow-moving rivers and marshes of northern South America in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, northeast Peru, Guyana and northern Bolivia. It has very few natural predators and is threatened by habitat destruction and human persecution due to its size and fear of being a man-eater.

During breeding season female green anacondas will form a breeding ball consisting of 2-12 males coiled around her in what looks like a giant bowl of spaghetti. They will all vie to be the one to mate with her.

Green Sea Turtle

Green sea turtles are herbivores, and get their name from the color of their fat (not their shells). They have olive-green carapaces (top shells) with white plastron (bottom shells).

Adult green turtles help keep nearshore ocean habitats healthy, acting like gardeners by grazing seagrass beds and trimming off the ends of the leaves. This allows the seagrass to grow healthier and faster.

They are the only sea turtle that comes ashore regularly to bask, and do so in large numbers in Hawaii and some areas of the Pacific Islands. They reach sexual maturity at 16 years old and live 50-plus years. They often ingest marine debris, including fishing line and plastic bags.

Inland Taipan

The inland taipan is one of the world’s most dangerous snakes but has never killed a human in the wild. Its venom is so potent that in laboratory tests it has been said to kill 250,000 mice in a single dose.

It typically corners its prey in a crack in the soil or in a burrow and bites it repeatedly without releasing, delivering multiple doses of lethal neurotoxins, hemotoxins and myotoxins. Its venom also contains a spreading factor that speeds up the absorption of its poisons.

The inland taipan is extremely shy around people and will only attack if provoked or mishandled in some way. Its lifespan in captivity varies but an individual at Australia Zoo lived to over 20 years of age.

Chaco Side-Necked Turtle

Turtles of the suborder Pleurodire exhibit a unique defensive posture, bending their long necks to rest beneath the lip of their shell. This gives them the name sidenecked turtles.

They are found in the arid region of the Gran Chaco in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. They are limited to seasonally flooded lowlands of dry shrub forest, where water pools following rare summer rains.

Like other aquatic turtles, they require a large aquarium with a lot of plants and rocks to explore. They also need a good quality water filter and weekly tank cleanings to remove their waste and dechlorinate the tank water. They tend to be shy at first, but inquisitive when they feel safe.

Goniurosaurus Huuliensis

Goniurosaurus huuliensis is a new species of ground lizard that has been isolated from northern Guangdong Province, China. It differs from congeners by a combination of discrete morphological characteristics and genetic differences.

Phylogenetic analyses place the new taxon within the G. yingdeensis group but with high nodal support and low intra-populational genetic differentiation, suggesting that it represents an independent lineage from its sister species. It also possesses several distinguishing traits not found in any of its congeners, including an enlarged row of supraorbital tubercles and sheathed claws (Fig. 2).

The new population inhabits the rugged evergreen forests of Huu Lien National Reserve and is tolerant to harsh climatic conditions. Therefore, it is a good candidate for in-situ conservation programs.

Yamashina’s Ground Gecko

Geckos are characterized by adhesive toe pads and can stick to surfaces thanks to the fact that they shed their skin. They also eat their old skin. Some geckos are only found over a tiny range and are listed as endangered by the IUCN.

Goniurosaurus kuroiwae yamashinae, or the Yamashina ground gecko, is endemic to Kumejima Island in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. It inhabits leaf litter in subtropical forests and karst limestone areas and hunts small invertebrates on the ground.

The population is under threat from habitat reduction caused by logging and agriculture and predation from introduced carnivores. It stores fat in its tail to survive food shortages and threatens its enemies by sticking its tail up.