Galapagos wildlife

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Galapagos Islands reptiles


Reptiles were able survive the long ocean passage to the Galapagos due to their ability to tolerate arid conditions and salt water environment; they can also fast for long periods of time.

Galapagos tortoises

An interesting point regarding the reptiles' arduous trip to the Galapagos was that it was a one-way voyage. The currents were not about to carry them back to the mainland! If they were going to survive, they had to adapt to the local conditions. Thus, it is not surprising that the number of reptile species is small, and of these 22, 20 are endemic to the Galapagos.

The reptiles not only arrived, but they survived, reproduced, and assumed several of the niche roles typically filled by mammals. A key point is that land mammals were, for the most part, not able to make the ocean voyage on their own.

It is for this reason that, along with amphibians, land mammals are noticeably absent from the list of indigenous species (with the exception of three species of rice rats and two species of bats). As evidenced by several introduced mammalian species proliferating to the point of detriment to native species, the Galapagos environment is fit for more than just prehistoric-looking reptiles.

Being ectothermic, the behavior cycle of the reptiles is governed by their body temperature, which they cannot control physiologically; they utilize sun and shade for this purpose. Even with such a strict limitation, they have managed to adapt in a remarkably efficient and most noticeable fashion to the harsh environment of the Galapagos as well as to the various microclimates of particular islands.

Galapagos Islands reptiles, Giant tortoise
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