Introduction to Reptiles
Reptiles originated around 320–310 million years ago in the steaming swamps of the late Carboniferous period, having evolved from advanced reptile-like amphibians that became increasingly adapted to life on dry land. There are many extinct groups of reptiles, including dinosaurs. Modern reptiles inhabit every continent with the exception of Antarctica. All reptiles exhibit some form of cold-bloodedness.
Living Sub-groups of Reptiles
The three living subgroups of reptiles are
Crocodiles and alligators – 25 species
Snakes and lizards – over 9000 species
Turtles and tortoises – about 330 species
Most lizards are insectivorous, and many primarily eat other lizards. Most lizards are active during the day. Their vision is typically adapted to daylight conditions. They have color vision and greater visual depth perception in comparison to amphibians and most mammals. Lizards tend to protect themselves from predators through camouflage. The Margallah Hills National Park is home to about 32 species of reptiles, these include thirteen species of lizards, and three species of turtles.
Yellow-bellied House Gecko
It is the most common and most familiar gecko seen in houses and buildings. It is an excellent climber, spending most of its time clinging to ceilings and walls. It spends the day hiding and comes out at night to feed on insects that are attracted to lights.
Spotted Indian House Gecko
This gecko is commonly found under the bark of trees, in and under logs and in piles of dead branches and other rubbish. It is the most common gecko in the countryside and is known to forage after sunset. As with the majority of geckos, it lays two eggs at a time.
Asian Garden Lizard
Calotes versicolor farooqi
This lizard basically inhabits forests and areas with trees and shrubs. It abounds in roadside trees of Sheesham, Dalbergia sisso and Keekar Acacia species. It falls prey to domestic cats, house crows, kestrels, kingfishers and snakes. This lizard mainly feeds on tree insects, small birds, frogs and small mammals. It has the remarkable ability to change its body colour to camouflage itself, and sometimes become immobile to deceive its predators.
Turtles are characterized by a special bony shell or carapace developed from their ribs that acts as a shield making it difficult for predators to crush the shell between their jaws. The earliest known turtles date back 220 million years— making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups. Of the many species alive today, some are highly endangered. Most turtles are herbivores, feeding on grass, weeds and leafy greens. They are generally reclusive animals. They lay eggs, like other reptiles, which are slightly soft and leathery.
Brown Roofed Turtle
This omnivorous turtle is plentiful in rivers of the upper and lower Indus Valley and frequents muddy ditches, lakes, and marshes with vegetation on the banks. It adapts to wide variations in environments and is often found in the sewer systems of metropolitan cities. It hibernates in the winter.
Indian Flap-shell Turtle
This turtle is plentiful in the riparian system of the upper and lower Indus Valley. Individuals vary in temperament. When disturbed, some react by withdrawing their limbs and neck into the shell, while others hiss loudly and lunge forward with an open mouth, ready to bite, and expel foul-smelling secretions. The diet of this species includes adult frogs, tadpoles, fish and snails
Indian Soft-shell Turtle
This huge soft-shell turtle inhabits rivers, large canals, and large permanent ponds where it remains buried in the bottom gravel. It is extremely aggressive, quickly extending its neck to give a very painful bite when disturbed. This is an omnivorous species and is a notorious carrion eater. It is cannibalistic and even attacks turtles of its own species.