Introduction to reptiles

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Like amphibians, reptiles are cold-blooded creatures relying on external sources of heat to keep them warm, such as by basking in the sun or under sun-warmed objects.

Like amphibians again, most reptiles lay eggs but in this respect the common lizard is an exception, bearing live young.

The young of all reptiles, however, are exact scaled-down versions of their parents, perhaps differing only in colour. Unlike amphibians, their skin is dry and scaly.

Snakes have a bad reputation, but only the adder among our native snakes is venomous. It is a shy creature and bites with reluctance, and only very rarely with fatal results.

Other native reptiles found in Essex are the grass snake, which frequents damp places including large gardens, and the slow worm, a legless lizard.

© Tony Gunton