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Garden Allies: Reptiles

Articles: Garden Allies: Reptiles

Other than spiders, perhaps  no other animals in the garden engender as much fear and misunderstanding as reptiles. Once safety has been ascertained, however, the curious gardener may draw near to appreciate our scaly allies who keep many garden pest populations under control. Garden reptiles are known to eat insects, spiders, slugs, and even larger garden prey such as rodents.

We used to think of reptiles as cold-blooded, but they are more properly called ectotherms, deriving their temperature from the environment rather than internal processes. Reptile body temperatures vary; for instance, alligator lizards maintain a higher body temperature than most other lizards, allowing them to be more active in cooler weather  and to prey on other reptile species. Some ectotherms are able to maintain even higher temperatures than some warm-blooded animals, called endotherms.

Western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus)

Reptiles commonly found in Western gardens include several species of snakes and lizards. Of these, the only ones that are potentially dangerous to humans are rattlesnakes (Crotalus species in the Wes...

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