golden mantella

Teachers: download Amphibian Alert! a curriculum for teaching children about amphibians and their global population declines.

Reptile Discovery Center Activity Guide

Reptile Discovery Center Programs


Aldabra tortoiseThe world's 8,240 species of reptiles inhabit every continent except Antarctica. Reptiles include turtles, snakes, crocodiles, and lizards. They can be as small as the dwarf gecko (less than an inch long) or as big as the saltwater crocodile, which can weigh more than a ton. All reptiles have scales, but some are too small to be seen. Reptiles are ectothermic (their body temperature is regulated by their environment). Most lay eggs, but a few give birth to live young.


emperor newt There are more than 6,000 species of amphibians on Earth, including frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. One-third of amphibians are threatened with extinction.

For most amphibians, life begins in the water—the young have gills and lack legs when they hatch from eggs laid in the water. They metamorphose, growing legs and changing in other ways to live on land. The word "amphibian" comes from Greek—both lives. Amphibians became the first vertebrates to live on land, and like their "cold-blooded" reptile relatives, depend on external energy sources (such as the sun) to maintain their body temperatures. more about being ectothermic

2008 is the Year of the Frog.

Read all about Operation Shenandoah Salamander.


At the National Zoo, reptiles and amphibians can be found at the Reptile Discovery Center and Amazonia.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Reptile Discovery Center

The Reptile Discovery Center is home to many distinctive animals, from the massive Aldabra tortoise to the unusual gharial, to better known creatures such as the American alligator, Komodo dragon, and boa constrictor.
more about the Reptile Discovery Center

link to Reptiles and Amphibians Photo Gallery | link toHelp with cam

Can’t see any animals?
The animal in this exhibit may have moved out of view. FONZ volunteers operate some cams, but most of our cams show a fixed view.

Gharials are large, endangered crocodiles from India and Nepal. Adult males grow to be 16 to 20 feet long, and females reach 13 feet or more. Gharials have more than 100 teeth and a long, narrow snout. You might catch a glimpse of one of the Zoo's gharials, which hatched in 1979, in the underwater camera.
Gharial Facts

More about the Zoo's reptiles and amphibians:

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