What exactly is a reptile? Reptiles are neither bird nor mammal – they belong to the class – Reptilia. They are cold blooded which means that they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Rather it is modified to the environment they are in – and because they don’t have to burn calories maintaining their body temperature – they can eat less food.
Well Known Reptiles: Alligators – Crocodiles – Snakes – Lizards – Turtles – Tortoises.
The Crocodile can grow to over 20 feet long while the Alligator is typically 11 – 12 feet in length. The biggest snakes have been measured at over 30 feet. Reptiles can live to be 40 or 50 years of age. Most don’t reach sexual maturity until at least 6 – 8 years of age.
Reptiles are known to have lived for well over 150 million years – while some research seems to suggest a history of over 300 million years. There are more than 270 different species worldwide. As with most living creatures today – some are threatened and some are already endangered. The current rash of mindless reality television shows featuring people slaughtering reptiles in swamps is certainly not helping them.
Reptiles have been killed for centuries for their skins and hides. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the slaughter of alligators and crocodiles was relentless. Today many are skinned alive – (there is a belief that this makes the leather more supple) – I’m sure that most peope aren’t aware of this deplorable cruelty. In today’s luxury driven markets – people will pay $3,000 or more for a crocodile purse and more than $10,000 for a briefcase – perhaps more – depending on the cache of the “designer”.
The strongest markets for this high end merchandise are Frankfurt, Berlin, Tokyo, Rome, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles.
Reptiles are not immune from the big business of factory farming where they are raised in appalling conditions and then slaughtered mercilessly. Poaching for the under-ground black markets is also an on-going problem globally.
The common big snakes – people have been conditioned to fear and thus demonize them from books and films. The Anaconda – the Boa Constrictor – the Reticulated Python and the King Cobra are incredible reptiles. They are so beautiful that they are killed for their skins. The fashion industry is a shameful culprit in the killing of these creatures.
Lizards exist in most countries and are some of the most fascinating and colourful creatures alive. Mankind could never have conceived of them – they have sprung from the fertile imagination of Mother Nature!
2 Horned Chameleon
And not to be forgotten are the turtles and tortoises who grace our lands, oceans and seas. Turtles are also factory farmed in terrible conditions. A turtle farm in the Caymen Islands was recently in the news for its lack of concern for the welfare of the turtles. It’s so encouraging to see injustices reported and exposed.
And so it goes – more species – with mankind as the predator. More reasons to become involved.