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 12:04:37 PM (CST) Monday, February 18, 2019

Feeding Habits of Reptiles

Sometime after its formation, reptile embryos have already begun to feed. In the course of this first phase of life the substances needed for growth are furnished by the abundant store of yolk contained in the egg. After hatching, however, food is no longer brought physiologically to the young and has to be actively sought in the outside environment. Among the turtles, which have no teeth but are provided with a horny, sharp-edged beak which covers the jaws, the land species generally feed on plants or on small invertebrates (mollusks, worms, and insects) while the aquatic forms are omnivorous, eating vegetation while preying upon crustaceans, mollusks, worms, insects, fish, and larval amphibians.

Crocodilians are likewise aquatic; these carnivores have strong teeth implanted in shallow alveolae in the jaws. Representatives of this order feed chiefly on fish, amphibians, birds, mammals and other reptiles, and occasionally take crustaceans (Sometimes humans too if they aren’t careful). They catch their prey in the water or on the shores of lakes and rivers, mangling them with their sharp teeth and swallowing smaller creatures whole. Large prey is dragged to the bottom of the water, drowned while pieces of flesh are twisted off and bolted.

The teeth of the tuatara, snakes and many lizards are found in the upper and lower jaws and additionally often on the palatal bones, these are used exclusively for grasping the prey. Venomous snakes have specialized teeth for envenomating prey. Opisthoglyphs, or rear-fanged snakes, have grooved teeth on the back of the upper jaw. These snakes cannot inject their prey by merely striking but must chew their victim to introduce the venom. Solenoglyphs (vipers) and proteroglyphs (cobras etc.) have a pair of grooved or hollow fangs attached to the maxillary bone in the front of the upper jaw.

With these teeth the venom secreted by the venom gland (parotid gland) is injected into the victim's flesh. The venom quickly immobilizes and then kills the prey, and only at this point is it swallowed. On the other hand, those snakes which lack grooved teeth (aglyphous species), often immobilize their victims by constricting them in their coils and after suffocating them, swallowing them head first. Both types of snake, however, are able to expand their mouth enormously in order to swallow (thanks also to the large, extensible esophagus) prey of considerable dimensions. When kept in captivity many of these snakes will consume frozen feeder mice or feeder rats depending on their size. If you are looking for great prices on rats for sale online, make sure you check our catalog today.

Lizards also have an extensible esophagus but in contrast to snakes, their mouth is only moderately expandable and (a part from the Helodermatidae which includes the only two living venomous lizards) there are no grooved teeth or venom glands. The tongue of these specialized lizards is mobile and bifid, like that of the monitor lizards and snakes. In the snakes there is a notch at the front edge of the jaw so that the tongue can be shot outward even when the mouth is closed. In some lizards the tongue is also used for feeding, helping to convey arthropods and other small prey, or, in the case of vegetarian species, plant stems and leaves, to the mouth. In this context the most highly specialized hunter of prey is the chameleon, whose very long, club-shaped, sticky tongue is shot out at great speed to trap the victim.

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