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Reptiles - Lizards and snakes, crocodiles and alligators, turtles and tortoises - What are reptiles?

Lizards and snakes, crocodiles and alligators, turtles and tortoises—all these vertebrates are reptiles. 
Reptiles have dry skin covered with scales.
They breathe air through lungs, and most species lay their eggs on land.
The eggs of some reptiles have leathery shells.
Others are hard, like birds' eggs.

Lizards and snakes

There are nearly 3,000 different species of lizards.
Lizards like to live in hot places.
A lizard can survive the heat of the desert because its scaly skin keeps the moisture inside its body.
Most lizards have eyelids that close, ears on their head, a long tail, and four legs.
A few lizards, such as "glass snakes" and slow worms, have no legs.
There are almost as many species of snakes as there are species of lizards.
Snakes have no legs and no eyelids, and their ears are inside their head.
Their eyes are protected by transparent scales.
Most snakes live in warm places, but some can live in colder climates.
Most snakes swallow their prey— including frogs, rats, fish, and birds—alive.

The crocodilians

Alligators and crocodiles belong to a group of reptiles called crocodilians. 
They all live in or near water.
Most live in tropical countries, either in freshwater rivers and lakes, or in the low-lying areas nearby. Crocodilians have long snouts, strong jaws and webbed back feet.
Small crocodiles eat fish but bigger ones can eat quite large animals, including turtles.
A big crocodile can kill a human being with one lash of its tail!

 Turtles and tortoises - Reptiles with shells

Turtles and tortoises are the only reptiles with shells.
They belong to a group known as chelonians. 
Turtles live on land, in fresh water, or in the ocean.
Tortoises live only on land.
Many turtles live for a very long time—some have survived for as long as 150 years! 
Female chelonians dig a hole in the mud or sand. Here, they lay their eggs, cover them and leave them alone to hatch.
When the young hatch, they dig their way out and search for food.

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