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General Reptile Facts

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The following questions were answered by reptile expert Sue Barnard, zoo nutritionist Ellen Dierenfeld, and zoo biologist Will Waddell.

How many different kinds of reptiles are there?
There are about 250 species of turtles, 25 species of crocodilians, 5,500 species of snakes, 3,000 species of lizards, 130 species of amphibians, and 2 species of rhynchocephalians.

Are reptiles cold-blooded or warm-blooded?
Reptiles are cold-blooded. However, scientists use different terms. They use "ectothermic" for "cold-blooded" and "endothermic" for "warm-blooded."

What do most reptiles eat?
Most reptiles are carnivores, and eat whole prey or insects. Some reptiles (adult green iguanas, for example), are herbivores and eat green plants.

Were dinosaurs reptiles?
No, they were dinosaurs. In fact, it is thought that dinosaurs eventually evolved into birds. Many dinosaurs, if not most, were thought to be warm-blooded, and reptiles are cold-blooded.

Is a snail a reptile?
No, a snail is a mollusk. A mollusk can be described as an invertebrate animal (an animal without a backbone), with a soft body usually enclosed in a shell. Other mollusks are clams and squid.

  • Subjects:
    Invertebrates, Reptiles and Amphibians
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