Reptiles & Amphibians
Reptiles are vertebrate animals that are ectothermic, which means their body temperature varies with the outside temperature. This also known as cold-blooded. They have scales and produce young by laying eggs or giving birth to live offspring.
Australia is home to around 14% of the world’s reptilian population. Most of these animals live on land but some, like sea turtles, are aquatic.
The scales of reptiles are made of a strong protein called keratin, the same material as human fingernails. The scales help some reptiles move, such as snakes, by grabbing onto surfaces and creating friction to propel them forward. Scales can help as a form of defense. Some reptiles have prickly scales that can protect them from predators whilst others, such as the bearded dragon, have developed a deterrent of what looks to be hard spikes but when you touch the scales they are actually quite soft.
Amphibians are tetrapod (four limbed) vertebrate animals that are ectothermic, which means their body temperature varies with the outside temperature. This is also known as cold-blooded. Their skin contains very little keratin and lacks scales in most species and contains many mucous glands.
In typical amphibian development, they require water bodies for reproduction with most species laying eggs in water and having aquatic larvae that undergo metamorphosis, a process of significant morphological change, to become adults.
They can be aquatic or terrestrial but if they do live on the land then they are normally restricted to moist habitats as they need to keep their skin damp.