NBII Kids Home

Kids of all ages can learn about nature through games, stories, puzzles, and fun projects at NBII Kids.

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)

Reptiles for Kids

Eastern ribbon snake

Eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) [Photo: John J. Mosesso, NBII Digital Image Library]

Reptiles are animals with a backbone, scales on their skin, and claws on their feet. Among the reptile types, crocodilians are large and have bony plates beneath the skin; lizards are elongated and, with some exceptions, have four legs; snakes are elongated and lack legs; and turtles lay eggs and have a shell. Reptiles live in all continents of the world but Antartica. In the United States, reptiles can be found in deserts, oceans, forests, and elsewhere.

Finding some reptiles can take training and experience. Many reptiles, such as the tiny Florida reef gecko, are active only at night and scurry between holes and ground cover. Large reptiles like the American alligator often are secretive too, keeping themselves unseen to hide from predators or to capture prey. Sometimes large gatherings of reptiles occur: Olive ridley and Kemp's ridley sea turtles are known for mass nesting on beaches, and in cold regions of North America, as many as one hundred prairie rattlesnakes may hibernate together in caves or burrows.

Reptiles can be unusual and fascinating creatures. Learn about the lifestyle and traits of a select few of the world's 8,000+ reptile species below.

Photo Credits: Please credit David Burdick (NOAA Photo Library) for green sea turtle; John J. Mosesso (NBII Digital Image Library) for American alligator; Kevin Jackson (National Park Service) for prairie rattlesnake; and Charles H. Warren (NBII Digital Image Library) for snapping turtle.

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Green sea turtle

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

American alligator

Prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)

Prairie rattlesnake

Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Snapping turtle

Fun Facts

Lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians shed their skin in large patches or all at once.
All six species of sea turtles that occur in the United States are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Green anacondas (Eunectes murinus) are the most massive snakes in the world for their bulk and length combined.
All snakes are carnivores and swallow their prey whole.
All crocodilians have a third, inner eyelid called a nictitating membrane that protects each eye underwater.

Reptiles as Pollinators

Blue-tailed day gecko on flower
A male blue-tailed day gecko (Phelsuma cepediana) feeding on a Trochetia blackbumiana flower [Photo: Courtesy Dennis Hansen]

Did you know that reptiles pollinate plants? In fact, there are at least 37 known occurrences of different lizard species visiting flowers and/or providing pollination services.

Learn more about reptiles as pollinators.

Library of Images From the Environment

White-spotted wall gecko (Tarentola annularis)
White-spotted wall gecko (Tarentola annularis) [Photo: Yuri Huta, Copyright: Finding Species]

For images of reptiles and other wildlife, visit the NBII Library of Images From the Environment.

ScienceDaily: Frog and Reptile News
Snakes, lizards, alligators, frogs and toads. From habitat information to frogs in stem cell research, you will find all the reptile and amphibian news here.
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