Reptiles as a group include snakes, turtles, crocodiles, amphisbaenians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives. The study of these traditional reptile orders, historically combined with that of modern amphibians is called herpetology.
Reptiles are an important part of the ecosystem and serve both as predators and as prey. Herbivorous species can also be important seed dispersers, particularly on island habitats. Some are known to act as pollinators. "Removal of any species from its ecosystem can drastically alter the populations of other organisms, but those that have a particularly influential role within an ecosystem are known as keystone species. Top predators, such as the crocodile, are often keystone species, though they also contribute to the food chain as prey whilst they are still young. Some species are considered critical for the way they modify their habitat." For instance, the American alligator living in Florida's Everglades dig "gator holes" which are often the only aquatic habitats left during the dry season. These holes provide refuge for many species of fish, turtles, and other species. The water in these holes provides a source of water for birds and other terrestrial animals and plants. Reptile species can also have a useful anthropogenic role in ecosystems. In some areas, they help control the numbers of serious agricultural pests by consuming rodent and insect pests.
Reptiles have long been both a source of irritation and of pleasure for humans. Reptiles also make popular pets, with about 3% of households in the USA having at least one pet reptile. Many people are afraid of reptiles, particularly snakes and crocodiles. These interesting and amazing critters are often persecuted by humans and are hunted or traded. Reptiles have been popularly used in symbology and myth. Worldwide, snakes have been used as a symbol of power and sometimes evil, though they are also used in symbols for medicine. Turtles on the other hand usually represent longevity and stability and are also often associated with creation stories.
The most famous of all reptile species is the dinosaur. And like the dino, many of today's reptiles have become extinct; many others are facing extinction at an alarming rate. In the last few centuries. almost all known reptile extinctions can be attributed to human activity – either directly, through overhunting, or indirectly, by introducing predatory species or altering the habitat the reptiles rely on for survival. What many humans fail to understand is that once these animals are gone, they're gone for good. We can't ever get them back.
I ask you, dear reader, to be kind to reptiles. If you don't bother them...they won't bother you. Sunday is #ReptileAwarenessDay and I encourage you to find a way to honor these noble creatures this weekend. This internet spider web thingy has many interesting and educational articles, photos, and tips for helping to preserve one of Nature's valuable members of the ecosystem.
But whatever you do this weekend, enjoy yourself and, as always, please stay safe. I'll be back here again on Monday, so until then I wish you much