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10 Fascinating & Fun Reptile Facts You Never Knew

Nicole Cosgrove

Despite their abundance, people often misunderstand and misrepresent reptiles, whether knowingly or not. But the truth is that reptiles have tons of unique features and interesting facts to learn about.

That’s why we took the time to track down and highlight 10 of the most interesting reptile facts. Along the way, we bust a few common misconceptions that people have about various reptiles.

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Fascinating Reptile Facts:

1. Most Reptiles Can’t Chew Their Food

It’s surprising but true! While reptiles can claw and tear food with their teeth and claws, they don’t chew the way that humans do. It’s not the most efficient way to eat, but reptiles have made it work.

Argentine black and white tegu eating
Image Credit: Vinicius R. Souza, Shutterstock

2. Reptiles Are Among the Oldest Animals on Earth

Reptiles have been around for over 200 million years, making them some of the oldest animals on the planet. In fact, many reptile species have been here since the dinosaurs!

Crocodiles first appeared about 245 million years ago, which means they predate the dinosaurs by about 15 million years! Of course, these species have evolved over the years.

While crocodiles then could reach over 31 feet in length, the largest crocodiles today only reach 20 feet.


3. Snakes and Lizards Smell With Their Tongues

While we pick up scents through our noses, both snakes and lizards smell things with their tongues. They pick up scent particles and pass them to another organ in their body that registers a scent.

If that sounds bizarre to you, think about how you can “taste” when there are extremely pungent smells around. While lizards and snakes accomplish this in a different way, it’s not all that odd!

snake and lizard fighting
Image Credit: hilmi ceper, Pixabay

4. Reptiles Live on Every Continent But Antarctica

When we think of reptiles, we often think of wild and exotic places. But the truth is that reptiles are extremely adaptable, and you can find them all over the planet. It makes sense for creatures that have survived and thrived for close to 250 million years to be able to adapt to different areas.

But while reptiles live all over the place, they simply can’t handle the extreme colds of Antarctica.


5. Reptiles Live Longer Than Most Other Species

Not only have reptiles been around for a long time, but they’re also some of the longest living animals around! The Giant Tortoise typically lives about 150 years, but some have passed the 200-year mark!

giant tortoise
Image Credit: S. Nagel, Pixabay

6. Chameleons Do Not Change Their Color To Blend In

It’s an extremely prevalent myth that chameleons change their color to blend into their surroundings. While it’d be cool if they did, that’s not why they change colors.

Instead, it has to do with their mood. When a chameleon is frightened or angry, they’ll turn bright colors. So, if you’re thinking of getting a pet chameleon to watch them change colors, you’re going to be a little disappointed.


7. Reptiles Are Not Slimy — They Are Dry

Another common misconception is that reptiles are slimy. The truth is that reptiles don’t possess any sweat glands, so they can’t get slimy! They’re extremely dry and often scaly, not slimy.

merauke blue tongued skink
Image Credit: dwi putra stock, Shutterstock

8. Many Lizards Can Lose Their Tails

There are quite a few lizard varieties out there that lose their tail and regrow a new one as a defense mechanism. However, it’s important to note that their new tail will never look quite like the old one. It’s a useful defense mechanism in the wild because it enables them to get away if a predator has them by the tail.


9. There Are Over 8,000 Reptile Species

Reptiles live everywhere, and there are tons of different reptile species. If you plan on trying to learn as much as you can about all of them, you have your work cut out for you. But with over 8,000 different species, there’s bound to be a few that stand out!

bearded dragon in the woods
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

10. Most Snakes Are Not Harmful to Humans

While the fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias in the world, the truth is that unless you live in Australia, most snakes are harmless. Only about 1/3 of all the snakes in the world are venomous, and only about 8% are deadly to humans.

While that doesn’t mean you need to like snakes, chances are that your phobia is a little unfounded.

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Final Thoughts

With so many reptiles in the world, it’s no wonder that so many people are interested. Whether you’re thinking of getting a new pet or simply want to know more about these fascinating creatures, there is plenty to learn!

The next time you’re looking to see a reptile, all you might need to do is look out the window!


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Related Topic: 20 Fascinating & Fun Snake Facts You Never Knew

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.