Reptiles are cold-blooded animals that are covered in scales. Oregon has a wide variety of lizards and snakes and two native turtles.
Types of Reptiles
Oregon's native turtles are in trouble. Invasive, non-native turtles such as the red-eared slider and snapping turtle compete with Oregon's turtles for food, habitat and nesting sites. Our native turtles are also preyed upon by bullfrogs and are affected by habitat loss and degradation.
Check out this video to learn more about Oregon's native turtles and invasive turtles.
Lizards are more like ancient reptiles than either snakes or turtles. There are more than 2,500 species of lizards known in the world and they range from legless, snake-like varieties to the better known, four-legged type with five toes on each foot and scaly skin. Most lizards lay eggs but some give birth to live young. Most eat insects and small animals; some eat plants. Many lizards are very fast and most can swim. Some can even "swim" through sand, just below the surface.
Lizards don't like to be caught and several species will take some pretty drastic steps to get away... like letting their tails break off! Should one of these lizards be caught from behind, its tail will separate from the body, leaving the predator holding a tail that seems to have a life of its own, slapping and wrapping itself all around. With luck, the sacrificial tail will keep the predator occupied just long enough to let the lizard get away, and begin to grow a new tail. Many lizards can let their tails break off numerous times and they will just grow back. In fact, some lizards have been known to break off their own tails and eat them when food was scarce. It's a lizard's sack lunch.
Oregon has a variety of lizards within its borders. Everything from the widespread Western fence lizards to the Alligator lizards (which have a personality to match their name) to the dinosaur-like Horned lizards, sometimes called horny toads, of southeastern Oregon. But the most common lizard in Oregon is the Western skink. Skinks can be recognized by their smooth, glossy scales.
Oregon has 15 native snake species, from the beautifully colored California Mountain kingsnake to the rubber boa, a constrictor. Interestingly, the sharptail snake appears to specialize in feeding on slugs. And did you know that of our native snakes, only the Western rattlesnake has poisonous venom that's dangerous to humans?