MSD Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Introduction to Reptiles


Stephen J. Divers

, BVetMed, DACZM, DECZM, FRCVS, Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia

Last full review/revision Aug 2020 | Content last modified Sep 2020

Reptiles can be easily recognized by their horny or scaly skin. The class Reptilia has 4 orders. The order Rhynchocephalia includes only 1 living species, the tuatara, which is native to New Zealand. The order Crocodilia includes alligators, caimans, crocodiles, and gharials (a crocodilian species native to the Indian subcontinent). The order Testudines contains tortoises and turtles, also called chelonians. The order Squamata includes lizards and snakes.

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