Reptiles around the globe

Reptiles around the globe:  air-breathing vertebrates covered in special skin made up of scales, bony plates, or a combination of both. They include crocodiles, snakes, lizards, turtles, and tortoises. All regularly shed the outer layer of their skin. Their metabolism depends on the temperature of their environment.

Reptiles are among the longest-lived species on the planet. Reptiles around the globefirst appear in the fossil record 315 million years ago.

Fun Facts

Turtles

Crocodiles

Caiman

Alligators

Boa Constrictors

Sea Snakes

Summary

Fun Facts: top 5

  • It’s estimated that there are more than 10,000 species of reptiles around the globe, and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Reptiles do not have sweat glands and thus are not slimy, instead their skin is usually cool and dry.
  • Most species of snake lay eggs (oviparous). But many Vipers, Rattlesnakes and Anacondas give birth to live young (viviparous).
  • The hearts of snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises contain three chambers rather than the four chambered hearts of humans.
  • Many species of Turtle show temperature-depend sex determination. This means the ambient temperature outside the egg, during the development of the embryo, can determine a hatchling’s gender.

Turtles, crocodilia and snakes!

Have a look at some of the reptiles around the globe that we have covered and where to encounter them.

Turtles

Turtle looking to the camera, followed by some silver fish

They are characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield. Colloquially, the word “turtle” is generally restricted to fresh-water and sea-dwelling Testudines (turtles, tortoises and terrapins).

Get to Know Sea Turtles 

There are seven species of sea turtles -six of which are found swimming in every ocean except for Arctic and Antarctica. The seventh species of sea turtle, the flatback, lives only in the waters around Australia.

Sea turtles grow 2 – 7 feet long in length and weigh 70 – 1500 pounds. Given that there are seven species of sea turtles, the leatherback is the largest sea turtle and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. In addition, sea turtles are omnivores. 

It should be known that sea turtles make long migrations between feeding and breeding zones.

For instance: the leatherback turtle travels around 3,500 miles each way between feeding and breeding. Regarding gestation, sea turtles will mate at sea, and then on the beaches, they lay their eggs. After digging a hole in the sand to deposit their eggs, they cover the hole back up and return to the waters.

Around 60 days later, the eggs hatch and tiny turtles make their way to the water – often at night-time in order to avoid any potential threats to the young turtles. 

Diet of Sea Turtles

reptiles: sea turtles

Sea turtles in general are omnivores, however, their specific diet depends on which sub species they are. For instance: Leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish while Loggerheads feed mainly on lobsters and fish.

Green turtles are vegetarian so eat sea grasses. Olive Ridley sea turtles mostly eat jellyfish, snails and shrimp – though they may feed on seaweed as well. 

Endangerment of Sea Turtles

Plastic pollution in ocean environmental problem. Turtles can eat plastic bags and bottles mistaking them for jellyfish

There are a number of factors which are leading to the endangerment of the sea turtle. It is important for us to highlight these reasons as we become more aware of the dangers and ways that we can help them. 

  • Entanglement in Fishing Gear 
  • Consumption of Turtle eggs and meat
  • Global Warming 

Over the last 200 years, human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture—known as bycatch—in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites; it alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

Where to swim with turtles: TOP 5

sea turtle reptiles

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters.

1.Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  1. ABC Scuba Diving 
  2. Blue Dive Port Douglas
  3. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions 
  4. Scuba IQ 

2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 

  1. Guiding Galapagos Expeditions 
  2. Scuba Iguana 
  3. Perfect Destiny 
  4. Eagleray Tours
  5. Galapagos Underwater 

3. Maui Island, Hawaii 

  1. Maui Snorkel Tours
  2. Molokini Snorkelling Tours 
  3. PacWhale Eco-Adventures
  4. Maui Snorkel Charters 
  5. Quicksilver Maui 

4. Sipadan, Malaysia 

  1. Scuba Junkie 
  2. Pulau Mabul 
  3. Sipadan Water Village 
  4. Borneo Divers Mabul Resort 
  5. Pom Pom Island Resort 

5. Ari Atoll, Maldives

  1. Lets go Excursions Maldives 
  2. Miyaru Folhudhoo Divers Maldives
  3. Rasdhoo Scuba Divers 
  4. Dive Worldwide
  5. Dive Blue Maldives 

Has this inspired you to see turtles in this wild? Take a look at our all inclusive guide; Where to swim with turtles.

Crocodiles

There are 13 species of crocodiles, so there are many different sizes of crocodile. The smallest crocodile is the dwarf crocodile. It grows to about 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) in length and weighs 13 to 15 pounds (6 to 7 kilograms). The largest crocodile is the saltwater crocodile. 

Salt water Crocodile

have an enormous range, populating the brackish and freshwater regions of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia. They are excellent swimmers and have often been spotted far out at sea. 

American Crocodile

It is the most widespread of the four extant species of crocodiles from the Americas, with populations present from South Florida and the coasts of Mexico to as far south as Peru and Venezuela.

Marsh/ Mugger Crocodile

The mugger crocodile, also called marsh crocodile, broad-snouted crocodile and mugger, is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran to the Indian subcontinent. Vulnerable status.

Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile, native to freshwater habitats in Africa, is present in 26 countries. Due to its widespread occurrence and stable population trend.

Dwarf Crocodile

The dwarf crocodile, also known as the African dwarf crocodile, broad-snouted crocodile or bony crocodile, is an African crocodile that is also the smallest extant species of crocodile.

Fresh Water Crocodile

The freshwater crocodile, also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnstone’s crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of crocodile endemic to the northern regions of Australia.

Cuban Crocodile

The Cuban crocodile is a small-medium species of crocodile found only in Cuba. Highly aggressive. The Cuban crocodile is one of the world’s most endangered species of crocodile.

West African Slender Snouted Crocodile

reptiles

The West African slender-snouted crocodile is a critically endangered species of African crocodile. It is one of five species of crocodile in Africa.

Distribution & Habitat

Crocodiles are large reptiles around the globe that habitat the tropics of the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia. Europe is the only continent that they don’t natively live in.

Crocodiles are inhabitants of swamps, lakes, and rivers, although some species make their way to brackish water or to the sea. 

Where to see Crocodiles: top 5

A crocodile resting on a sand bank. Taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa

1. USA

There are over 200,000 alligators and crocodiles in the Everglades—but over 1.5 million in the state of Florida! The coastal plains of the southeastern United States are home to most gators, who live in both natural and man-made freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and wetland areas.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Tour Operators:

Everglades Nature Tours

Everglades swamp tours

2. South Africa

Only the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) occurs naturally in South Africa, and they are formidable predators.

  • Kruger National park, Mpumalanga
  • St Lucia reserve, KZN
  • Ndumo Game Reserve
  • Isimangaliso Wetland Park

Tour Operator:

Crocodile kruger activities

Sentashya Safari

St Lucia Safaris and Tours

Siyabona Africa

Heritage tours and safaris

3. Australia

Australia is home to only two species of crocodile, but can boast having the largest; the Saltwater Crocodile. Although ‘salties‘ can live in the sea, they prefer estuaries and freshwater swamps across northern Australia and will often venture inland during the breeding season.

  • Kakadu National park
  • Adelaide River, Northern Territory

Tour Operators:

Kakadu Tours

Adelaide River Tours

Jumping Crocodile Cruise

4. Cuba

Endemic to Cuba, the Cuban crocodile is the most terrestrial of all crocodile species, with long and strong legs that distinguish it from its relatives. They were once found across the Caribbean and the Bahamas but hunting reduced the population to a small region of Cuba.

5. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has two species of crocodiles. One is the Mugger or Marsh crocodile. The other is the Saltwater or Estuarine crocodile. Sri Lanka is home to around 2,500 to 3,500 saltwater crocodiles, more than half of which are found in national parks.

  • Wilpattu,
  • Yala,
  • Bundala National Parks.

Tour Operator: Wildlife Tours Sri Lanka

Are you a lover of crocs? Would you want to encounter them in real life? Take a look at our crocodile blog!

Caiman; Animals of the amazon

The infamous Black Caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon basin and are known for their black, scaly skin. They are usually found in the slow-moving rivers and lakes in the Amazon region, as well as in the floodplains of the Amazon Rainforest. Reptiles around the globe, closely related to the alligator.

There are plenty of black caimans in the Amazon region, and so they are considered at a “low risk” of extinction, with an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 black caimans in the wild.

Caimans, like all other members of the order Crocodylia (or Crocodilia), are amphibious carnivores. They live along the edges of rivers and other bodies of water, and they reproduce by means of hard-shelled eggs laid in nests built and guarded by the female.

Where can you go to spot a Black Caiman in the wild?

Rainforest cruises are one of the best operators to contact to ensure that you see a black caiman up close and personal!

Interested in animals of the amazon? we have the blog for you!

Alligators

American Alligator Swimming in Everglades

Alligators have been living on Earth for millions of years and are sometimes described as ‘living fossils’.

Two types of alligators are in existence. They are the American and Chinese Alligators.

American Alligators

The American alligator, sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian/ large reptiles around the globe, native to the Southeastern United States, with a small population in Mexico.

Chinese Alligators

The Chinese alligator, also known as the Yangtze alligator, China alligator, or historically the muddy dragon, is a crocodilian endemic to China.

Distribution & Habitat

America and China. The American alligator lives in the southern United States, from North Carolina to Texas, according to the Smithsonian Zoo. These gators can be found in slow-moving rivers, ponds, lakes and swamps. Chinese alligators live in eastern China, and they are confined to a small area in the Yangtze River basin near the Pacific Ocean. They are traditionally found in rivers, lakes, ponds and swamps, but are now confined mostly to ditches and ponds on agricultural land.

Where to see Alligators in America

  • New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • The Everglades, Florida.
  • Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, Alabama.
  • Houston, Texas.

Everglades Airboat tours

Air boats tours

Tigertail Airboat tours

Where to see alligators in China

Today it is limited to the lower Yangtze river; the largest river in Asia, primarily in the Anhui and Zhejiang provinces in eastern ChinaChinese alligators are found in slow-moving freshwater rivers and streams, including lakes, ponds and swamps.

Unfortunately it isn’t possible to book tours to see these alligators. One can visit alligators in parks across various parts of the country. However we cannot attest to the state of care for alligators. Let us know if you have visited any of these parks and whether or not you can recomend them for alligator encounters…

Alligator obsessed? Want to learn more about these incredible reptiles around the globe? Have a look at our alligator guide.

Non venomous snakes: the Boa Constrictor

boa snake reptiles

Boas are found in Mexico, Central and South America, and Madagascar. The largest member of the group is the boa constrictor, but it is important to note that this is only one species of boa—all boas are constrictors. A constrictor is a snake that kills prey by constriction.

Types of Boa Constrictors

Boas are collectively referred to as  boines  in South America, and they are without a doubt  the most famous snakes in the world.

The widespread  boine  fauna of the Amazon River Basin and the Guianas includes five species, namely the boa constrictor , the emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus), the common tree boa (C. enydris), the rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria) and the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus).

Where to find Boa Constrictors

Although highly elusive reptiles around the globe to spot in the wild, we do have recommended locations that are home to these remarkable reptiles! 

The Amazon Rainforest

All four species of Anaconda can be found throughout South America, but they dwell predominately in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins.  Anacondas are semi-aquatic and thrive in slow moving streams, rivers, and other muddy, marshy environments. 

These “Water Boas”, as Anacondas are sometimes called, tend be slow and unwieldy while on land, and instead use their sleek bodies to swim swiftly through the water. Anacondas are primarily nocturnal snakes, though can be seen active throughout the day

Suggested Tours & Operators

Rainforest cruises Amazon River cruises

Amazon Expeditioners Amazon walk expeditions

Mexico

Cozumel is a largely undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is a popular cruise ship port of call famed for its scuba diving. A venue for natural wonders of the land and sea alike.

Suggested tours/ Operators:

Safe Tours Cozumel: Private Island tour into national parks and heritage sites

Cozumel Tours: Eco tours

In the mood for snake searching? Learn more about Boa constrictor snakes here.

Sea Snakes

2 black and white banded sea kraits dancing in the blue

In the ocean, Sea snakes are no more than 60 species of highly venomous marine snakes of the cobra family (Elapidae). There are two independently evolved groups: the true sea snakes related to Australian terrestrial elapids, and the sea kraits related to the Asian cobras.

Distribution

They are restricted to coastal areas of the Indian and Western Pacific oceans, from the east coast of Africa to the Gulf of Panama. Except for the yellow-bellied sea snake, which is found in the open ocean from Africa eastward across the Pacific to the west coast of the Americas. 

Fun Facts about reptiles around the globe: sea snake edition…

  1. The average Sea snake grows to about 2 meters long and has a smallish head for its body size. 

2. Their tails are flattened to make fast swimming possible and flaps over their nostrils close when they are underwater.

3. hey are capable of bursts of speed of up to 1m/sec when diving, fleeing and feeding.

Conservation

Sea Snakes

Sea snakes are exploited for their skin, organs, and meat. Although some species are taken in great numbers, they are not protected by CITES (A Washingon convention).

Since 1934, meat and skin of sea snakes have been used commercially in the Philippines and local protection of sea snakes became necessary to avoid overexploitation. 

Swimming with sea snakes?

Finding snakes underwater can be very dangerous and an alarming experience. espite their inoffensive nature, they are highly venomous. The bite may at first seem insignificant but the paralysis that results can be fatal.

Keep sea snakes at a distance and never attempt to handle one. Tread carefully in areas where they are known to be found.

If you want to learn more about the snakes of the sea, you’ll love our sea snake complete guide.

Summary

Reptiles around the globe are incredible adapters, having originated over 300 million years ago into the species we are able to encounter today. Have you ever been privileged to encounter one of these reptiles around the globe, in the wild? ( with a safe following distance, of course).

Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for fututre reptile features to come.

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