Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Reptiles are truly fascinating creatures. Stories of reptiles such as alligators and crocodiles crying before they eat their prey captures the imagination. Some reptiles are enormous, reaching sizes of up to 23 feet. Others however, are as small as 5 to 8 inches long. Reptiles live in a wide range of habitats including swamps and deserts. This great diversity among reptiles is one of the reasons they have managed to survive for an estimated 260 million years.
Reptiles have special adaptations that allow them to live on land and in the water. Reptilian scales form a waterproof barrier of skin, which allows reptiles to exist away from water without the threat of dehydration. Members of the reptilian class include snakes, lizards, turtles, alligators, caimans, and crocodiles.