Reptiles are cold-blooded, and their skin is dry and covered with special scales. Lizards, snakes, crocodiles, alligators, and turtles are all reptiles. Some live on land and some live in water.
Most reptiles hatch from eggs, but a few are born as living animals. Females lay their eggs in a warm, wet place. They usually lay a lot of eggs, but many eggs are eaten by predators. Most reptiles lay their eggs and then they leave them, but pythons put their body around their eggs to keep them warm. Alligators make a big nest from mud and leaves. They lay their eggs and stay near the nest. They don’t eat for weeks when they are keeping their eggs safe.
Crocodiles and alligators are very good parents after their eggs hatch. The female Nile crocodile is very careful — she puts her babies inside her mouth to carry them to water. She stays near them to keep them safe for up to two months.
When snakes and lizards grow, they get too big for their skin. The old skin comes off and there’s a new one underneath. This is called sloughing. Most snakes lose their old skin three or four times every year.
When reptiles are ready to breed, they have to find a mate. Male crocodiles lift their head up and make a loud sound. They also blow bubbles in the water so that females will see and hear them. Snakes find their mate by smell. The females leave a special smell that the male follows. Other male reptiles, like monitor lizards, fight each other for a mate. The females choose the winner of the fight because he’s the strongest.
Some whiptail lizards can produce young without mating! The eggs are not fertilized, but they still hatch.
Reptiles are in danger from many predators, and they have lots of ways of keeping safe. If a predator catches a lizard by its tail, the lizard can break its tail off and escape. It then grows a new tail. The stinkpot turtle makes a horrible smell from its legs to make predators go away. Many reptiles also use camouflage to keep safe. Some chameleons can change color so that predators do not see them, and the leaf-tailed gecko can hide easily because its body looks like a leaf.