Surely more than once on summer nights you have seen on the exterior walls of the houses and the low ceilings of the buildings a curious animal crouching in the shadows. It is the gecko ( Tarentola mauritanica ) or wall dragon and is a species of reptile, one of the six groups of the Animalia Kingdom . It is a very large and very old group.
What are reptiles and their characteristics
Reptiles are vertebrate animals that crawl while dragging their bellies on the ground. This type of displacement is due to the fact that, originally, they inhabited aquatic environments, but after years of evolution they have completely adapted to terrestrial life. Thus, there are also reptiles that have upright legs and move on foot, but always with the belly very close to the ground. This origin would also explain their need to inhabit areas with a nearby water presence. They normally inhabit places with land and water (such as lakes, swamps, riverbanks, etc.).
Among the main characteristics of reptiles are:
- Reptiles, along with mammals, fish, amphibians and birds, are part of the group of vertebrate animals .
- There are approximately 8,240 species of reptiles.
- Its body has dry skin made of scales .
- His breathing is through the lungs .
- They are cold-blooded animals , that is, their body temperature depends on weather conditions.
- Other characteristics are that they have upright pupils, they usually have a long tail and many of them have forked tongues.
- Regarding the reproduction of reptiles , a large part of these are oviparous (they lay eggs that they fertilize in the nest), but there are also those that are viviparous (the embryo develops inside the female).
- The diet of reptiles is very varied, being able to be carnivores, insectivores, herbivores or omnivores. Among its preferred prey are mollusks, worms, fish, birds, rodents, goats and other animals.
The classification by types or orders is divided into four large groups of reptiles :
- Squamata (or scaly), lizards and snakes, with more than 3,000 species.
- Anapsida , turtles or chelonians more than 300 species.
- Rhynchocephalia, there are only 2 species.
- Crocodylomorpha , alligators and crocodiles, with more than 20 species.
Within these four types of reptiles, there are aquatic reptiles and terrestrial reptiles and, among the numerous species that are scattered around the world, below we show you 10 examples of reptiles.
The Komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon or Varanus komodoensis is classified as the largest lizard species in the world . It is also known as the Komodo monster or Komodo monitor . It typically inhabits Komodo Island and some of the other nearby islands. Its total length can reach 3 meters and its maximum weight is approximately 135 kg. One of the peculiarities of this species is that the adult individuals eat the smallest individuals and, occasionally, adult individuals.
The Cuvier’s caiman or Paleosuchus palpebrosus , typically inhabits the basins of the Orinoco, the Amazon and other South American tropical rivers, it has a very marked shape on its skull that is reminiscent of a dog, as it is not flattened like other species related to this, and it is a species of small size, in which the males do not reach much more than 1.5 m in length.
The Indian python or Python molurus molurus is best known for being the snake recreated by Kipling in The Jungle Book , the snake named Kaa. It is one of two subspecies of Python molurus and its range includes India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Each 5 m specimen can weigh about 90 kg.
The alligator caiman or Caiman yacare is an endemic species of the subtropical and tropical regions of central South America. This species of reptile of the Crocodylomorpha group is characterized by being able to reach almost three meters in length and because its skin is dark, hence it is also known as the black alligator .
The loggerhead turtle, loggerhead turtle or Caretta caretta is a pelagic sea turtle that can reach 90 cm in length. However, specimens of more than 2.5 meters long have been found. The females of this species go to spawn on the same beaches where they were born, so they make trips of thousands of kilometers.
The horned lizard or Phrynosoma cornutum , also called the Texas chameleon, is a lizard that inhabits desert areas in Mexico and the United States. It stands out for one of its surprising defense methods, being able to shoot a jet of blood from the corners of the eyes up to 1.5 meters long, to confuse its predators.
The marine iguana or Amblyrhynchus cristatus is a reptile closely related to land iguanas. They are endemic iguanas of the Galapagos Islands. Adults reach 1.5 meters and 15 kilos and feed only on seaweed, especially those exposed by low tide.
The king cobra or Ophiophagus hannah is a snake that inhabits large areas of India, Burma, South China and other areas of Southeast Asia. It is the largest poisonous snake that exists, as it can reach 6 meters. Thus, apart from having an impressive size, it also has a powerful venom and feeds mainly on other snakes.
The common gecko or Tarentola mauritanica is a small reptile that is distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin, belonging to the geconidae family. They are nocturnal in nature and feed mainly on insects, so in summer it is easy to see them near light sources. Its appearance is reminiscent of a small dragon, like that of the rest of the geckos family, which is why it is also called a small dragon or wall dragon .