Reptiles

 

Section Overview

Databases

Information Format

Overview of Reptiles

Description of Reptiles

 

Page Links

Inventory of Reptile Families and Species

Glossary of Reptile Terms

 

Section Overview

 

Twenty-six species of reptiles, encompassing seven reptile families,
have been identified as occurring in the general northwestern region of
Virginia (including Facquier County). While no systematic research has
been conducted in Sky Meadows State Park to identify reptiles, all the
included species are known to inhabit the general vicinity, and anecdotal
reports and first-hand observations have been made concerning several
of the species (e.g., northern black racer and eastern snapping turtle).
Further research is needed to more accurately identify reptile species.

 

Databases

 

Two primary sources of information were used for the reptile section. The
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries provided the "core"
database for most species information as well as general entry structure.
In addition, Wikipedia entries for reptile families were used. Pictures were
primarily taken from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
(in particular, John White), although a few pictures were taken from
Wikipedia sites.

 

Information Format

 

The information format employed by the Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries has been used for all reptile entires. Entires include:

 

NAME: Common and scientific names.
CHARACTERISTICS: General identiifying characteristics of each species.
DISTRIBUTION: Includes information concerning not only natural range
of a species, but also typical habitats where species can often be found.
FOOD: Typical food eaten by each species.

 

Overview of Reptiles

 

Reptiles, or members of the class Reptilia, are air-breathing, generally
"cold-blooded" amniotes (a vertebrate that has a thin innermost
membranous sac enclosing the developing embryo) whose skin is
usually covered in scales or scutes. They either have four limbs or
are descended from four-limbed ancestors and lay amniotic eggs, in
which the embryo is surrounded by a membrane called the amnion.


Modern reptiles inhabit every continent with the exception of
Antarctica, and four living orders are currently recognized:

 

  • Crocodilia - crocodiles, gavials, caimans, and alligators: 23 species

  • Sphenodontia - tuataras from New Zealand: 2 species

  • Squamata - lizards, snakes, and worm-lizards: approximately7,900 species

  • Testudines - turtles and tortoises: approximately 300 species

 

For Sky Meadows State Park, only the Orders Squamata of lizards,
snakes, and worm-lizards and Testudines of turtles and tortoises are
relevant.

 

Description of Reptiles

 

The majority of reptile species are egg-laying (oviparous), although
certain species of squamates are capable of giving live birth. This is
achieved by either egg retention (ovoviviparity) or birth of offspring
without the development of calcified eggs (viviparity). Many of the
viviparous species feed their fetuses through various forms of placenta
analogous to those of mammals, with some providing initial care for their
hatchlings. Extant reptiles range in size from a tiny gecko,
Sphaerodactylus ariasae, that grows to only 1.6 cm (0.6 in) to the
saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, that may reach 6 m in length
and weigh over 1,000 kg. The science dealing with reptiles is called
herpetology.

 

 

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