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Newly-hatched alligator Reptiles are cold-blooded animals with scaly skins. They include snakes, lizards, turtles and crocodiles. Most reptiles lay eggs, either soft and leathery or hard-shelled, but some give birth to live young. A few reptiles guard their eggs until they hatch. Apart from the crocodilians, most reptiles abandon their young after hatching or birth. Land-living reptiles must bask in the sun to warm up before going in search of food.

Reptile skin

A snake shedding its skin, revealing its bright new yellow, green and black patterned skinReptiles have dry, scaly skins—not slimy. The scales form one continuous sheet, not individual scales like fish. Water cannot pass out through their skins, unlike those of amphibians. This means that reptiles do not need to keep their skins moist. Some reptiles moult regularly, shedding their skins when new ones have grown underneath.

A collared lizard basking on a rock

Warming up

Because they are cold-blooded animals, reptiles need to bask in the sun to raise their body temperature before they are able to move about in search of food. However, they do not need to eat as much food as the warm-blooded birds and mammals, so are able to survive more easily in harsh desert environments.

Reptiles' teeth keep growing throughout their lives.


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