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Australia is home to about 14% of the world’s reptilian population and has some of the largest known snake and lizard fossils in the world. All reptiles are cold-blooded, have scales and reproduce either by laying eggs or giving birth to live young. Some reptiles are aquatic animals, although most live on land.

The Australian crocodile is the largest living reptile in the world. Also known as the Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodile, adults average at 3 to 5 metres in length! In Australia, Estuarine Crocodiles are found in northern coastal areas, including drainages, rivers, estuaries, creeks, swamps, lagoons and billabongs. Wonder at how these large reptiles are able to return home to their territory after being captured and displaced and learn about the different ways they communicate with each other.

Besides the massive crocodile, geckos are also reptiles. In recent years, numerous new species of gecko have been described, with researchers at the Australian Museum working to understand the relationships and taxonomy of unusual or isolated populations of geckos within New South Wales. Be dazzled by how geckos can regenerate their tail if it gets bitten off by a predator and learn how it can save their life.

Discover more about the unique characteristics of these cold-blooded creatures.


Snakes, lizards and other reptiles

Reptiles include snakes, lizards, turtles and crocodiles.

Features of reptiles:

  • Reptiles are ectothermic (their body temperature varies with the outside temperature).
  • Reptiles have scales.
  • Reptiles reproduce either by laying eggs or giving birth to live young.

Many people have a fear of reptiles, particularly snakes. However, reptiles are shy creatures and, if given the chance, will escape rather than attack. Most snakes only bite as a last resort and the majority of bites to humans are inflicted while people are trying to catch or kill them.

All native reptile species are protected within New South Wales.


Reptiles in Sydney

About 40 species of reptiles are found in the Sydney region including turtles, lizards and snakes. As more and more bushland is cleared to accommodate Sydney's increasing population, several reptile species are experiencing population declines and are becoming harder to find.


Reptiles in the Australian Museum collections

Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians. Discover more:



Reptile factsheets

41 Fact Sheets in this section

Australian snakes image gallery

Australia has nearly 200 known species of snake, only 25 of which are considered potentially deadly.



Australian turtles

Australian turtles include the Mary River Turtle, sea turtles and long-necked turtles.