Reptiles and their habitats biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
Cold-blooded, airbreathing animals, reptiles are just about everywhere. They are vertebrates, which means they have backbones, and almost all of them lay eggs. There are lots of different types of reptiles: lizards, snakes, turtles, and crocodiles are all reptiles.
Unlike amphibians, reptiles have to lay their eggs on land or the growing baby won’t get enough oxygen. That means that even reptiles that live in water like sea turtles come on land to lay their eggs in nests. In many reptiles, like all alligators and crocodiles, and most turtles, how hot or cold it is while they’re eggs will affect whether the babies that hatch are male or female. That’s different from other animals, whose sex is completely dependent on their genes.
Not all reptiles lay eggs, though. Some of them keep their eggs inside them until the babies are ready to live on their own, and give birth to live young. Some snakes and lizards do this, and it protects their babies from being eaten as eggs.
As they grow, reptiles shed their skin. Their skin doesn’t grow with their like ours does, so they have to get rid of it and grew new skin underneath. Snakes are famous for this; they crawl out of their skin, leaving the entire thing behind. But not all reptiles do it that way, though. Alligators and crocodiles shed their skin bit by bit, rubbing against trees and rocks to get rid of dead skin.
Speaking of skin, reptile skin is usually covered by scales or bony plates, or both. This protects their delicate skin from damage and drying out.
Even though many of reptiles spend a lot of their lives in water, none of them have gills. They have lungs just like we do, and breathe air. They can hold their breath for a long time, but have to come up to the surface every now and then to get a breath.
Another special thing about reptiles is that they’re cold-blooded. That means they get their heat from the environment. Big reptiles especially spend a lot of their day basking in the sun to warm their bodies. In fact, if it gets too cold, they can’t move very much. Although they live in a many different kinds of environments, from tropical rainforests, to oceans, they do not thrive in very cold, wintery environments, where there is little heat available for them.
In some ways, though, their cold-bloodedness is good for them, though. They have a slow metabolism and don’t need to spend energy making too much heat like humans do, so they don’t need to eat a lot. They’re so good at conserving energy that some reptiles go months without food!
These cold-blooded vertebrates are some of the coolest animals around!