Cool Pets! Reptiles… the Fascinating World of Lizards, Snakes, and Turtles
The sighting of a reptile captures everyone’s attention! These are the most bizarre and curious of all the land dwelling creatures, and also some of the most adorable of the aquatic creatures. Like other terrestrial animals they evolved from creatures of the sea, but these animals are certainly some of the most provocative.
Reptiles, just like their aquatic ancestors, are cold-blooded animals. But unlike the familiar warm-blooded pets such as dogs, cats and other mammals, reptiles lack any sort of furry cover. Rather they are sheathed in scales, or bony plating known as scutes. Although reptiles lack that cozy, huggable appeal of a fuzzy soft covering they are fascinating to look at and intriguing in habit. They are exceptional animals and make very cool pets!
Cool Animals Known as Reptiles
Incredibly, there are over 8,000 reptile species in the world! These are extremely ancient creatures, and have been a part of many culture’s folklore throughout history. This large group is divided into four classified orders.
- Turtles, of the order Chelonia, are the most aquatic and are also the oldest living reptiles, existing nearly unchanged since the Triassic period.
- Lizards and Snakes are placed in the large Squamata order, and all are terrestrial.
- The very large, carnivorous reptiles found in tropical and subtropical swamps are placed in the order Crocodilia that includes alligators, caimans, crocodiles, and gavials. The ‘ruling reptiles’ of the great reptilian subclass Archosauria is also part of the Crocodilia order, and includes the popular, but extinct dinosaurs.
- The tuataras from New Zealand are in the order Sphenodontia with just 2 species.
Reptiles have a vital role in the natural world. They are an important part of the food chain both as predator and as prey. Predatory reptiles eat various species of rodents and insects, yet in turn, some mammals as well as birds of prey will eat some reptiles. Both sides of the equation help to keep animal populations in balance.
Cool People that Love Reptiles
All pet lovers tend to be very passionate about animals, and that’s equally true for reptile lovers. Reptile lovers repeatedly prove to be ardent enthusiasts for these unusual creatures. Also as is true to all animal lovers, these people also understand and care about the passions of their fellow reptile keepers. The dedication these fascinating creatures inspire is best illustrated by an amazing story that unfolded just a couple weeks ago.
At the recent Reptile Super Show, held on November 2nd and 3rd in San Diego, California, the herptile community came together to help an aspiring 13-year-old boy named Zayd Sheck realized his dream of owning a beautiful boa constrictor.
The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) reported that Zayd “…came to the USARK booth to hand over a rosy boa he found in the lobby (misplaced in container by an attendee after purchase). After speaking with Zayd’s mother, we found out that Zayd has been to many reptile shows this year following one certain boa constrictor bred by SoCal Constrictors and had been saving his money to buy the boa. He had saved enough for the snake but not enough to buy a cage, so he bought two raffle tickets for a snake kit at our booth and would be able to take the snake home if he won the kit.”
Well Zayd did not win the snake kit in the raffle, so a wonderful USARK volunteer spoke with the breeders of the snake, relaying Zayd’s story. Together they devised a plan “…to guarantee Zayd had an incredible day!” After the raffle USARK paged Zayd, asking him to come to their booth. When he arrived they presented with the boa from SoCal Constrictors that he had been eyeing for months, along with a ReptiHabitat Snake Kit from Zoo Med. The herptile community extended a great gift to this aspiring reptile keeper. Zayd and his mother were overwhelmed with appreciation, “… Zayd’s mom had tears in her eyes and hugged nearly everyone in the room”!
Benefits of Reptile Keeping
For enthusiastic reptile lovers, learning about these animals and keeping them as pets is an exciting adventure in and of itself. But reptile keepers, as is true of all pet lovers, are passionate people with a profound respect for animals. Their strong compassion lends a deep concern when any Animal Cause comes up.
The ultimate reward for both the animal world and humanity is people equipped with knowledge and the ability to help maintain and even breed these wonderful animals. Reptile lovers make it possible to save many endangered species from extinction.
Find the Best Reptile Pets
It’s exciting to learn what great pets reptiles make. They come in a variety of shapes, patterns, colors, and habits. Keeping them as pets is a fascinating hobby, and they have many advantages over other types of pets. They are generally quiet, clean, odorless, and non-demanding. Many require very little space, are low maintenance, and yet are fascinating to observe.
The trick when picking out your pet is to match the reptile that best fits into your lifestyle and home environment. See pictures and find great information for all sorts of Reptiles on Animal-World. A broad selection of Snakes, Lizards, turtles and tortoises will make good pets.
Join the Herp Community
You can follow in the footsteps of Zayd and attend multiple reptile shows, expos, and special reptile events. There are so many dedicated people in the herptile community that it’s easy to get involved. All across the country there are numerous clubs and organizations too.
One of my personal favorite organizations is the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK). In their own words, they are dedicated to the “…science, education and conservation” of these fascinating creatures. Join their mailing list and you will receive details about many upcoming events. Another great online resource for shows and expos is the Reptile Shows & Events on Reptile Channel. Just be warned, once you start getting involved you may very well get hooked, and be a reptile lover for life!
Clarice Brough is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.
“Discover your pet lizards family tree! Follow the classifying system, answering a few questions at each juncture, to discover your lizard and its relatives!”
Different families of lizards each have a unique look, which makes identifying your lizard
Lizards are often referred to as their common family name to simplify things. For example, you may refer to your Jackson’s Chameleon as simply your Chameleon, because all chameleons are similar. Lizard families consist of groups of lizards who have similar anatomy’s, which makes their physical appearances within a group quite similar. These families include Iguanas, Monitors, Chameleons, Agamas, Geckos, Tegus, Skinks, and several others.
The lizard families classification system was first described by Carl Linnaeus, a biologist from Sweden, in the late 1700′s. He is considered the ‘Father of Taxonomy’. Taxonomists today still use this classification system, called the Linnaean taxonomic system. It is based on organizing animals and plants based on their similarities and differences.
There are seven taxonomic ranks in the Linnaean Classification System. These are all by nomenclature codes which are international. These ranks are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The entire classification system is versatile. Everything (the groupings and the principles) has changed multiple times as the system as grown and changed.
This lizard classification guide shows the main taxonomic ranks, starting with the kingdom and going down to the specific lizard families. Using traditional classification methods, there are around 27 separate lizard families. Read more if you would like more detailed information on all the different pet lizard types or on wild lizard types… Read More