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Introduction to reptiles found in the Kruger

The park is abundant not only with wildlife such as mammals and birds but also scaly and cold blooded reptiles. There are 114 different and interesting species of reptiles living in the Kruger National Park out of the known 8000 species of reptiles roaming Earth.

Reptiles are known as cold blooded animals but do you know why? Cold blooded means that they rely on the heat of their environment to warm up their body instead of food sources such as humans and mammals. These animals react to the temperature of their surroundings; when they get too warm they cool off in the water or shade and when they get too cold they warm up in the sun. Amphibians and fish are also cold blooded creatures.
Reptiles are known as tetrapod animals meaning they are four-limbed vertebras or are descendants, such as snakes. These prehistoric like animals are divided into four different groups; testudines, squamatas, crocodilians and sphenodontia. Testudines are the one of the oldest reptiles, having been around for 200 million years, and include turtles, terrapins and tortoises, of which there are 4000 species. Squamatas are the most assorted of the reptiles groups and include over 9600 species of lizards, snakes and worm lizards. The crocodilian group includes reptiles such as crocodiles, alligators, gharials and caimans of about 25 different species. Tuataras are lizard-like reptiles, and the only species left in existence from the group of sphenodonitia. They are only found in New Zealand of which there are only two species left.

Monitor lizards
Monitor lizard.
Nearly all reptiles lay eggs but in some snakes and lizards the egg develops inside the mother and she gives birth to live young. Eggs are laid in nests on land, usually covered and hidden by loose sand. The eggs are covered in a protective shell that are either flexible or inflexible, meaning the egg is either soft or hard. When the youngster within the egg is suitably developed it hatches, some have a temporary egg tooth with which they use to crack and break out the egg.

Some of the reptiles are able to regenerate meaning they are able to grow back their tails or limbs lost in an accident, bitten by predators or as a means to escape. Snakes shed their skins just like all animals, including you, we just don’t notice as it’s an unnoticeable ongoing process. Snakes only do it periodically, slipping off their dead scaly skin in one go, showcasing a fresh and new skin. A snake’s skin reaches a point when the skin cannot grow any further and so a new skin underneath develops. Once the skin has developed the old skin is ready to peel off. The snake creates a rip in the old skin usually around the mouth or nose area by rubbing on hard objects such as rocks or logs. Usually snakes will shed two to four times a year although depending on age or species, and young snakes shed up to every two weeks due to growing fast.

Over the course of the next few months, there will be a series of blog posts dedicated to reptiles found in the Kruger National Park, about slithering snakes, scaly crocodiles, shelled tortoises and lizard like creatures.

”Don’t tell me you’re an animal lover if you only love the cute and fluffy.”
– Author unknown

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  1. Marilyn Cattell

    I never knew their are four types of reptiles so a very informative blog. Thanks Keira.