Reptile Types

Florida worm lizard (Copyright: Siar Anthranir) Amphisbaenians
Amphisbaenians have a worm-like appearance.
Alligator (Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library) Crocodilians
Crocodilians are large reptiles with powerful limbs and tails.
Western fence lizard (Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library) Lizards
Lizards are the largest and most diverse group of reptiles.
Eastern ribbon snake (Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library) Snakes
Snakes are limbless and eat prey whole.
Tuatara (Copyright Dr. Paddy Ryan) Tuatara
Tuatara have a lizard-like appearance.
Wood turtle (Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library) Turtles
Turtles have a shell, lack teeth, and lay eggs for reproduction.

Photo Credits: Amphisbaenians - Copyright Siar Anthranir (Siar Anthranir Photography Catalog); Crocodilians, Lizards, Snakes, Turtles - John J. Mosesso (NBII Digital Image Library); Tuatara - Copyright Dr. Paddy Ryan (Ryan Photographic)

Reptile Species

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) [Photo: John J. Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library]

Crocodilians, turtles, snakes, lizards, amphisbaenians, and tuatara are all members of the Class Reptilia. These diverse groups have in common such traits as phi keratins in the skin and internal fertilization. These groups also have in common a mode of body temperature regulation called ectothermy, in which energy from the external environment, rather than large quantities of internal metabolic heat, are primarily used to elevate body temperature.

Scientific studies with reptiles have led to key contributions across biological disciplines. Developmental biology, genetics, ecology, molecular biology, and medicine have all advanced from the study of reptiles. The great diversity of sex-determining mechanisms (how males and females are made; e.g., gametes or temperature) that reptiles exhibit make them ideal subjects for evolution and ecology studies. For medicine, chemicals extracted from snake venom have been used to treat such ailments as high blood pressure, hemorrhage, and stroke.

Reptiles demonstrate amazing diversity in size, shape, and color. This diversity allows reptiles to occupy ecosystems as widely varying as oceans, deserts, grasslands, ponds, streams, and tropical forests. Learn more below about the groups that make up the world's 8,000+ reptile species.

References for Reptile Species

Photo Credits: Please credit Siar Anthranir (Siar Anthranir Photography Catalog) for Amphisbaenian; John J. Mosesso (NBII Digital Image Library) for Crocodilian, Lizard, and Snake; Dr. Paddy Ryan (Ryan Photographic) for Tuatara; and Dr. Dwayne Meadows (NOAA Photo Library) for Turtle.

Core Science Metadata Clearinghouse Feed Results
This is the search result based on your Core Science Metadata Clearinghouse search criteria.
Showing 10 of 53 ( Show All )
CollapseNonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Database Non-freshwater Specimens
This dataset contains the non-freshwater specimens from the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) database, which was established as a central repository for spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of introduced aquatic species. The NAS program provides scientific reports, online/real-time queries, spatial data sets, regional contact lists, and general information. The data is made available for use by biologists, interagency groups, and the general public. The geographical coverage is the United States....
CollapseEastern New Mexico University Natural History Museum
The Eastern New Mexico University Natural History Museum is part of the New Mexico Biodiversity Collections Consortium (NMBCC, NMBCC is made up of: The Eastern New Mexico University Natural History Collection, The Western New Mexico University Gila Center for Natural History, The New Mexico University Museum of Southwestern Biology, The New Mexico Museum of Natural History, and The New Mexico State University Center for Natural History Collections. The goal of NMBCC is to increase the availability of information concerning New Mexico biodiversity. We are doing this by supporting basic curation of museum specimens, databasing this information, georeferencing the data, and providing the data on-line in a system that will make it usable to the general, scientific, and professional public. The fish collection was started by Dr. Sublette (author of Fishes of NM) and has many very valuable historic records for NM. The New Mexico Biodiversity project (htt...
CollapseTexas Natural History Collections, Herpetology
The Herpetology Division and its collection of amphibians and reptiles is one of the research units of the Texas Natural History Collections in the Texas Natural Science Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The collection began as a nucleus of research and teaching materials assembled by W. Frank Blair and his students in the Zoology Department; these were transferred to the (then) Texas Memorial Museum in 1950's. The holdings consist of about 63,000 catalogued specimens, which are used for research by faculty, staff and students at the University, as well as by qualified researchers throughout the world. The collection is also used for teaching courses (e.g., Vertebrate Natural History, Comparative Anatomy, and Herpetology) in Integrative Biology.Preserved Specimens: The majority of specimens in the Herpetology collection were fixed in formaldehyde and are currently stored in 70% ethanol; this is a standard museum procedure for this type of material. The specimens are housed i...
CollapseUniversity of New Mexico - Museum of Southwestern Biology - Division of Amphibians and Reptiles
Currently, there are more than 87,000 specimens mostly from the Southwestern United States, primarily from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. However, substantial numbers of specimens from elsewhere in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean region, the Galapagos Islands, and Vietnam are also included. The division maintains representative skeletal material, a small type collection, and a collection of uncatalogued specimens for teaching purposes. Other important collections in the division's holdings are from the Big Bend National Park by W.G. Degenhardt and T.L. Brown (all taxa), the Appalachian Plateau by G.B. Wilmott (salamanders), the West Indies by K.L. Jones (leptodactylid frogs), and the Delmarva Peninsula by R. Conant (all taxa). Personnel associated with the division conduct research in the Southwest involving functional and evolutionary ecology of reptiles and conservation of biological diversity. Collaborative projects are coordinated with the New Mexico Department of Game an...
CollapseImpacts of Hydrological Restoration on Three Estuarine Communities of the Southwest Florida Coast and on Associated Animal Inhabitants
This project sought to characterize habitat relationships between selected faunal groups and their mangrove environment on the Southwest Florida coast. We described how mangrove associated fish species are distributed in fringing forest habitat along a salinity gradient in the tidal portions of the Shark River; the ecology and population dynamics of diamondback terrapins in the Big Sable Creek complex; experimentally determined the preferred habitat of the specialist fish Rivulus marmoratus via field and laboratory experiments; and how the conversion of mangrove forests to intertidal mud flats in the Big Sable Creek complex has affected fish composition and use of those habitats. The overall strategy was to collect robust empirical field data on forage fish distribution and abundance that can serve multiple purposes: as performance measures in restoration assessment; as the beginning of a long-term dataset analogous to three very powerful datasets from other locales in the Greater E...
CollapseMangrove Terrapin Mark Recapture Study data
In 2001 a mark-recapture study on mangrove terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in the Big Sable Creek (BSC) complex within Everglades National Park was initiated. The summary data for terrapins in BSC were collected over 5 sampling trips in a two-year period (November 2001 - October 2003) and from analysis of individual terrapin capture histories....
CollapseThe Field Museum of Chicago: Botany and Zoology Specimens Collection Database
This site provides you with the Research and Collections on botany and zoology by using multi-search engines of the Field Museum in Chicago. The following portals might be easily accessed online: 1) Botany Collection Database: Search through Items with Images, Costa Rican Fungi, Economic Botany, Andean Flowering Plants, Bryophytes, and vTypes. 2) NAMA Voucher Collection Project: A searchable database of collections and images from North American Mycological Association forays. 3) Neotropical Erythroxylum: The systematics of Neotropical Erythroxylum - specimen data of Dr. Timothy Plowman - Contains approximately 9500 catalogue records. 4) Singer Index - Mushrooms: Index to all of the genera, species, and infraspecific taxa described by Singer, and bibliography of Singer's 440 publications. 5) VPlants: This site provides images and information on all of the plant specimens from the Chicago region, including southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana, that are housed at The Field Muse...
CollapseField Data for the Inventory of Amphibians and Reptiles of Colonial National Historical Park, George Washington Birthplace National Monument and Thomas Stone National Historic Site
This database contains data collected from 3/13/2001 to 8/5/2003 at Colonial National Historical Park, George Washington Birthplace National Monument and Thomas Stone National Historic Site for an inventory of amphibians (frogs and salamanders) and reptiles (turtles, lizards and snakes). Survey methods included visual encounter surveys, audio surveys, road surveys, dipnets, minnow traps and turtle traps....
CollapseEcological Risk Assessment of Toxic Substances in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem: Wildlife Effects and Exposure Assessment
This project will be carried out in several locations throughout those areas critical to the South Florida Restoration Initiative. These areas include: 1) Water Conservation Areas 1, 2, and 3 of the Central Everglades, 2) Everglades National Park, 3) Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 4) Big Cypress National Preserve, 5) multiple Miami Metropolitan area canals and drainages, and 6) restoration related STA?s (STA?s 1-6) adjacent to the Everglades. Specific site selections will be based upon consideration of USACE restoration plans and upon discussions with other place-based and CESI approved projects. The overall objectives are characterize the exposure of wildlife to contaminants within the aquatic ecosystems of South Florida, through a multi-stage process: a) screening of biota to identify hazards/contaminants posing risk, and b) evaluation of the potential effects of those contaminants on appropriate animal/wildlife receptors. This project will focus upon each of these stages/...
CollapseWashington Wildlife Heritage Database
The Wildlife Heritage (HRTG) Database contains information on documented point observations of non-game species of concern, state and federal listed species including those designated as endangered, threatened, sensitive, candidate, and monitor. This database was developed in the early 1980s and formed the beginning of the Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) Database. Together, PHS and HRTG provide locational data on important fish and wildlife. HRTG data are collected by a variety of means. Data are collected in the field by WDFW biologists, biologists from other agencies or research institutions, volunteers, private organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, and the general public. Data consist of standard survey data, museum records, scientific collection permit records, and incidental observations. Data are also extracted from spreadsheets, other databases and reports. Less formal means of data submittal include e-mail and phone conversations. Scope of the database is ...

Geographic Perspectives

Map of United States

Discover the reptiles that occur in:

*Central Southwest and Gulf Coast (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Gulf Coast)
*Southern Appalachian (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee)
*Hawaii and Pacific Basin
*Marine Habitats/Oceans


Museums & Collections

Common brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
Common brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) [Copyright: Museum Victoria; used with permission]

Search for museums with herpetology collections at Museums & Collections.

Taxonomy & Systematics

Taxonomy--the biological field of classifying organisms--typically relies on systematics--the study of the relationships between living things. Visit other NBII Web pages to learn the basics of the organization of diversity and to find resources about taxonomy and systematics covering all forms of life.

Research and Monitoring

Researcher observing with a camera
Researcher with a camera [Photo: Thomas A. Hermann, 
NBII Digital Image Library]

The National Resources Monitoring Partnership (NRMP) is a collaboration between state, Canadian provincial, and federal natural resource management agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions to share protocols being used to govern monitoring projects. Visit NRMP to find reptile protocols being used for research and reptile monitoring projects happening across the land.

The NBII Program is administered by the Biological Informatics Program of the U.S. Geological Survey
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