Reptiles & Amphibians

What is a Reptile?

Reptiles and amphibians form two distinct groups that are often lumped together and referred to as herpetiles, or herps for short. Reptiles are now considered to be closer to birds than they are to amphibians, but the tradition of lumping the two groups together is often convenient and persists. Reptiles can generally be recognized by their scaly skin and may be terrestrial or aquatic. In our region, they are easily split into three groups: turtles, lizards and snakes.

Most reptiles are egg-layers, but a good number give birth to live young. Reptiles have not fared well in the modern world as a whole and scientific research has shown that in some areas their biggest enemy is the domestic cat. Cats just can't resist the temptation to 'play' with little creatures that move jerkily, close to the ground... it might be play to the cat but it's often the end of the line for the poor reptile.

What is an Amphibian?

Unlike reptiles, amphibians have never made a complete break from the need for water to breed in. Amphibians can be told from reptiles by their non-scaly skin which is actually semipermeable, meaning they can lose moisture readily through their skins and so are rarely found out in the full sun, preferring instead to lurk in shady corners. Amphibians can be split into two main groups in our region - frogs & toads and salamanders & newts. Frogs and toads go through a partial metamorphosis when young, emerging from the egg in a waterborne, swimming form, often known as a tadpole or polliwog. These gradually grow legs and lose their tails, to eventually become miniature versions of the adults. Newts have a similar cycle but retain their tails into adulthood, while salamanders go through a slightly different process.

Click on the pictures below to go to the group that you are interested in.
(For a list of all reptile and amphibian species on the site, click here)

Fowler's Toad Bullfrog Tiger Salamander



Box Turtle Five-lined Skink Garter Snake