October 21 is Reptile Awareness Day!
No one knows how Reptile Awareness Day, or “RAD,” came into existence, but it has become an important day to bring awareness to significant concerns of reptilian life. Reptiles all over the world are facing threats of habitat loss and extinction, so encouraging education about the different types of reptiles, their natural environments, and the ecological challenges they face can help keep these cold-blooded creatures alive and safe.
Living reptiles have scales, are cold-blooded, and (with a few exceptions) lay eggs. They include turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, snakes, lizards, and tuatara. Because they are cold-blooded, they depend on the warmth of the sun to fuel their metabolic rates. Reptiles originated about 310-320 million years ago during the late Carboniferous period where they evolved from an extinct amphibian subclass. Today there are over 6,500 species of reptiles in the world, and it is estimated that there are about 300 reptile species that are considered endangered or threatened. They are some of the most diverse creatures on the planet, and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Since they are both predators and prey, they play an important part in the food chain by performing tasks that are valuable to each ecosystem they live in. These tasks include pollination and seed dispersal, controlling pest species, and being food for numerous other species.
The main threats that exist for the reptile species today include habitat loss, change of climate, and exploitation through wild capturing for reptilian farming and uncontrolled souvenir and pet trade. Invasive species have also been a threat to native reptilian populations in certain areas of the world.
REPTILES Magazine and ReptileChannel.com have come up with tons of ways you can celebrate Reptile Awareness Day. Here are a few:
2. Bring your reptile to school for show and tell! All ages from elementary school to college could benefit from learning about your favorite reptile.
3. If you don’t have a reptile of your own, but have always wanted one, today is a great day to bring home a new pet!
4. Visit your local zoo and check out their reptile exhibit.
5. Write a letter to your local and national representatives concerning legislation that would affect reptile rights, and the health and safety of reptiles.
7. Make plans to go to a reptile show before the next year’s Reptile Awareness Day.
8. Print out some of ReptileChannel’s Fun & Games to share with your friends or children.
9. Join a herptology club or society.
10. Make a check-up appointment for your reptile at your local reptile vet.
Reptiles are an important part of our ecosystem – educate yourself and help make your friends aware of their importance, so they can remain on our planet for many generations to come!