Tuataras, lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodilians comprise the group reptiles. There are approximately 8,000 known species of reptiles. From the giant crocodile to tiny skinks and lizards, reptiles are found on all continents except Antarctica. Reptiles have scales instead of skin, which come in a wide range of colours. Some animals, like the chameleon or the Fijian Crested Iguana, can even change the colour of their scales in response to a threat.
Most reptiles lay eggs, although there are some that give birth to live young. These are called viviparous. There are even those that produce eggs inside the body, gestating the egg until it hatches and the young emerges fully developed. These are called ovo-viviparous.
Australia has more species of reptiles than any other continent. Its most famous residents are venomous snakes such as the Tiger Snake and Dugite. However, Australia has many other reptiles that are not venomous and pose little risk to humans. In fact, even venomous snakes prefer to steer clear of humans. There is a large number of lizards (such as the Perentie, Australia’s largest lizard at 2.5 m long), turtles and tortoises, and of course crocodiles.
Visit Australia’s rarest reptile, the Western Swamp Tortoise, in the Australian Wetlands at Perth Zoo. This reptile is found only in Western Australia. Thanks to a special breeding program at Perth Zoo, the future for these tortoises is looking brighter. Click here to read more about this breeding program.
Many of the reptiles at Perth Zoo can be seen in the Reptile Encounter. Drop in for the special presentation every day at 11.15am for a ‘close encounter’.
And don’t forget the world’s largest tortoise, the Galapagos Tortoise. Two of these amazing giants can be found at Perth Zoo, opposite the Lesser Primates area.
Click on the reptiles below to learn more about those on display at Perth Zoo.