Watch out… October 21 can really snake up on you! Today is National Reptile Awareness Day, which not only serves as a reminder of the important role reptiles play in our ecosystem, but also promotes education, appreciation and conservation of these one-in-a-chameleon ectotherms. Not unlike the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, reptiles of all varieties are a vital part of a healthy ecosystem, ensuring the bug and rodent populations don’t take over our towns like Godzilla.
What are Reptiles?
So, what’s the cold-hard-truth about these cold-blooded creatures? Their body temperature and metabolic processes are entirely reliant on the external temperature, which makes them very sensitive to light, humidity, and of course, the temperature of their environment. This class of animals (about 10,000 different species) includes snakes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, turtles and tortoises. These amniotes lay their eggs on land, breathe air through their lungs, have scales or scutes, can shed their skin, and of course, have species-specific (as well as individual) personalities!
Weird, but True
A reptile’s senses are so different than mammals that it’s difficult for us to comprehend how they experience the world around them. For instance, what we consider a sense of smell could only correlate to a sophisticated organ in the roof of some reptile’s mouths. Also, while snakes don’t have external ear openings (and can’t hear external sounds), we shouldn’t consider them deaf! In fact, they are very sensitive to infrasound (very low wavelengths), since a large portion of their bodies are in constant contact with a surface at any given time.
Can Reptiles Be Pets?
If you’re considering a pet reptile, you’re in for a shell of a good time! Researching different species, proper habitat requirements and feeding regimens can be a great learning experience for the whole family. Investing in your captive-bred pet reptile to ensure that you’re able to recreate their highly complex natural environment where they can swim, climb, jump, burrow, or explore will allow your pet to thrive.
Depending on your family’s circumstance, you can be sure to find a suitable reptile species for adoption. Based on temperament, needs and a full-grown size that is manageable for the typical household, here are just a few of the best reptile pet choices to consider:
- Snakes – Cornsnake, Ratsnake, Milksnake, Kingsnake, Ball Python
- Lizards – Leopard Gecko, Bearded Dragon, Blue-tongued Skink
- Tortoises – Red-footed Tortoise, Yellow-footed Tortoise
These mini dinos definitely deserve a day in the spotlight. We hope you’re ready to celebrate our cold-blooded companionsssss and learn more about the important role they play in our ecosystems.