The cold-blooded creatures whose bodies are covered in dry, horny scales are often persecuted and are typically not considered to be of great significance. But the removal of any species from an ecosystem can affect all other organisms. And as some of the oldest living species, reptiles play an important role. Reptiles live in a wide range of habitats and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Many turtles live in the ocean, while others live in freshwater or on land. Lizards are terrestrial, but their habitats may range from deserts to rainforests, from underground burrows to the tops of trees.
Most reptiles are natural carnivores, and in this capacity, they are able to eliminate many creatures that people consider to be undesirable. In many parts of the world, snakes and lizards are welcomed by farmers onto their land because they act as a natural eliminator for insects, crabs, and other animals who threaten their crops. Larger snakes also aid in the reduction of rodents. Without reptiles such as snakes and lizards, many crops and food sources in the world would be left defenseless against smaller, hungry predators.
In the wetlands, the presence of crocodiles prevents the population increase of fish species. To keep the aquatic ecosystem balanced and super healthy, the availability of reptiles is a huge support in controlling fish overgrowth in coastal regions. The balance of the fish population is mandatory for the survival of a well-balanced ecosystem.
Reptiles eat dead animals, so they not only clean the environment but also maintain the balance in the food chain. For creatures to live comfortably, a clean, healthy environment is necessary. The largest lizard on the face of the earth—the Komodo dragon— is one example of a reptile which helps in the clearing of the environment by eating dead animals.
Reptiles are also the source of food for other creatures. Lizards are snacks for a wide variety of predators, and many animal species eat snakes.
Humans have hunted reptiles for food and survival for centuries. There are many types of proteins that can only be gained from reptiles, and humans use the venom of snakes for medical purposes.
Reptiles fill a critical ecological role. To learn how you can help, visit Endangered Species International.
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