Almost all lizard species have limbs, although a few unique lizards, such as glass lizards, do not, and look almost like snakes. Lizards are a large and colorful group of squamate reptiles, and different species eat different things. Chameleons, bearded dragons, crested geckos and iguanas are omnivores, eating a variety of plants, insects, and sometimes small vertabrates. Although iguanas are omnivores, they tend to eat more plant matter. Other lizard species, such as brown anoles and leopard geckos, feed primaraly on invertabrates and occasional small vertabrates. Others, like the famed komodo dragons, will even hunt deer-sized animals. Lizards are very dragon-like in appearence, and one lizard, the draco lizard, can glide with a wing-like membrane attached to their legs.
Iguanadae includes many iguana-like lizards. Iguanas and anoles are in this order.
Iguanas are becoming a problem in some of the southern U.S. states, where they are invasive.
By far one of my most favorite herptiles, anoles are small New World lizards in the order Iguanadae. Preferring warm, humid climates, anoles of all shapes, sizes and colors can be found in much of South America, the Bahamas, and Southern U.S. These lizards are common in pet stores, where they are sold as pets or as a feeder animal for a larger reptile. For more on anoles, read my page here, and visit Anole Annals.
When people think of lizards, these cute, large eyed, sticky footed creatures often come to mind. There are many kinds of geckos, The order Gekkota has six families: Carphodactylidae, Diplodactylidae, Sphaerodactylidae, Gekkonidae, Phyllodactylidae, and Eublepharidae. The first five families are known as "true geckos". All of these geckos do not have eyelids, and instead clean their eyes by licking them. The last family, Eublepharidae, is the only damily of geckos with moveable eyelids. Leopard geckos, a popular pet reptile, are in the Eublepharidae family.
The well-loved bearded dragon is a member of the Agamids.
Chameleons are instantly recognized by their ability to change color, and their independantly moving eyes. They also have prehensile tails. They eat insects, and may also be observed feeding on blossoms. A chameleon has unique feet made for grabbing onto branches.
Tegus are in this order of lizards.
Snakes are easily identified. They are limbless reptiles of the suborder Serpentes, and they are all carnivorous, feeding on vertabrates and invertabrates. they come in many sizes, from tiny brown snakes to large pythons and constrictors. Snakes have a bad reputation with some people, but in general snakes, even the venomous ones, will leave you alone as long as you don't bother them.
This contains a large portion of the snake species. Many popular and well known species are in this order: Garter snakes, corn snakes, king snakes, and hog nosed snakes are some of the diverse colubrids.
Turtles are aquatic (such as green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles) or semi-aquatic (painted turtles, blandings turtles, and hundreds more.) They are usually omnivorous, and have bony, beautifully patterned, shells.
Box turtles have high domed and ornate carapaces.
These are large turtles that spend most of their life in the ocean.
Similar to turtles, they are reptiles with a bony shell. Unlike turtles, however, tortoises are exclusively land-dwelling animals, while turtles' habitats vary greatly. This doesn't mean tortoises don't interact with water at all; besides drinking from bodies of water, tortoises may sometimes bathe in water. Another difference between turtles and tortoises is that while many turtles are omnivorous, most tortoise species feed almost exclusively on plant matter. The size of these prehistoric-looking animals vary, with the Galápagos giant tortoise, measuring over 6ft (1.8288 meters), and the adorable Pancake Tortoise, which measures only 6 or 7 inches long (15.24- 17.78cm).
If you see a reptile in the wild, and it is not injured, you may observe it quietly, but other than that, leave it alone. Reptiles carry a large amount of diseases and parasites that can be passed to humans and pets, and handling reptiles causes unneeded stress for the animal. In addition, some reptiles may be venemous, (milksnakes) have strong painful bites, (snapping turtle) or even a painful mixture of both (the beautiful Gila Monster). So, unless you are a wildlife professional, avoid handling reptiles.
Although you should avoid handling reptiles, there are some exceptions. One exception is that of helping turtles and tortoises to cross the road. As long as there is no traffic, or very little, helping a turtle or tortoise to cross the road is perfectly fine. (Try to avoid handling snapping turtles though, instead use a stick to gently encourage it to cross.) IMPORTANT: Always carry the turtle to the side it was trying to cross to. If you put them back where they started, they will just try to cross again.