Galapagos is an amazing and intriguing part of this world. One of the things that sets Galapagos apart from anywhere else is the uniqueness of the animals, especially the reptiles: ninety percent of the reptiles are endemic and found nowhere else on Earth. The Galapagos reptiles are easily approached and observed. In 1845, Charles Darwin wrote that the Galapagos Islands seemed like ‘paradise’ for reptiles.
Darwin was right. The Galapagos isles are dry and hot for much of the year.
Reptiles are adapted to these conditions. Their scaly skin is affective protection against the sun, and they can find shade if they are hot. Reptiles have a slow metabolism and being ‘cold-blooded’, therefore do not need a lot of food.
The Galapagos Islands are ideal for reptiles as there is minimal competition or predators in the form of native mammals. In the past, the absence of mammals on the islands permitted the Galapagos reptiles to evolve and to fill available niches. This is why most of the islands 22 reptile species are endemic. There is, however, one current threat to the reptiles and that is the safety of their eggs. Although there is only a handful of native mammals on the island, feral cats and rats often sabatage reptile nests and destroy or eat their eggs.
The Marine Iguana is extremely important since it is the only reptile adapted to life in the water. It can be found on rocky shores around most of the islands. It has blackish skin, in which the males can change to starling blues and reds during the breeding season.
Land iguanas are much larger than marine iguanas and are coloured in shades of yellow. Both species share an appetite for the prickly-pear cactus, but the land iguanas live more inland than their shore-loving relatives. Land Iguanas are found in Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandida, Seymour and most of all in South Plaza Island. The Santa Fe land iguana are similar in appearance, although the Santa Fe iguana is found only on that island.
The lava lizards are frequently seem scurrying across rocks throughout the islands. There are seven species of lava lizards, all of which are endemic. Nine species of Geckos also survive on the islands.
Snakes on the island include the Galapagos snake, as well as three species of the Alsphis family and another species known as ‘Philodrys biserialis’. The snakes are small and not venomous.
Click on the photos below to find out all about these amazing, unique and interesting species of reptile.