Reptiles are members of the class Reptilia, a group of air-breathing vertebrates that includes snakes, turtles, tortoises, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, amphisbaenids, and tuataras. Most reptiles are covered in scales, which help to prevent water loss and provide protection. Reptiles occupy an intermediate position in the evolutionary development between amphibians and warm-blooded vertebrates (i.e., birds and mammals). Unlike fish and most amphibians, the majority of reptiles can live their entire lives on land and reproduce in dry habitats.
Some types of reptiles (such as sea turtles) are adapted to living in water, but even these species come onto land to lay their eggs. All reptiles have lungs, so even those living in water must come to the surface to breath. Just like fish and amphibians, reptiles are "cold-blooded" or ectothermic, which means they don't regulate their body temperature internally. Reptiles are found living on all continents except Anarctica, but they are more common in tropical and subtropical environments.
Get to know the Philadelphia Zoo's reptile collection by visiting the Reptile and Amphibian House.
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