Reptiles are one of the few animal groups that can produce in many ways. The most common way is egg laying. The difference lies in the species of reptile. While reptiles are now becoming increasingly popular as pets, more hobbyists are thinking about breeding their own pets. This makes it increasingly important for a reptile owner to know about their pet's reproductive abilities.
Reptiles reproduce sexually in the same manner that other vertebrates do. Many species of reptile engage in an elaborate courtship before the mating takes place. The range of these mating behaviors spans from changing color, exotic dances, chasing, or even the occasion caressing. All eggs are fertilized internally. In some species of reptile, the female can store sperm over the winter months, and others can do so for years.
Most reptiles known to man lay eggs in a very similar way to birds. This process of laying eggs is called oviposition and the reptiles that do so are known as oviparous. All turtles, tortoises, and crocodilians are oviparous. Some of the more common lizards that are egg layers include iguanas, water dragons, geckos, veiled chameleons, panther chameleons, and monitors. All pythons lay eggs, but they are not the only snakes to do so. Others include kingsnakes, milksnakes, rat snakes, and corn snakes.
Because oviparous, or egg laying reptiles, lay their eggs on land, it's important that the eggs have some way to survive. This is whey the eggs have evolved to amniotic eggs, which means that he embryos are protected by a fluid filled sack called a amnion. This amniotic fluid is important since the eggs are laid on land. If it wasn't for this fluid, the eggs would dry out and the embryos would not survive. As an extra precaution, the egg is incased by a leathery or hard shell for protection.
Some species of reptiles are ovoviviparous. These reptiles produce young that develop in a thin-shelled egg inside the mother's womb. These eggs tend to hatch just before birth, making it appear as though the reptile is giving a "live birth" instead of laying her child in an egg. These reptiles include, but are not limited to, the Solomon Island skink, Blue-tongue skink, Shingle-backed skink, Jackson's chameleon, garter snakes, and all varieties of boas and vipers.
While there are myths that there are livebearers in the reptile world, they are just that: myths. As it has been stated above, that is just an illusion. However, that is not to say that the reproduction cycle of reptiles is any less spectacular than that of vertebrates that do indeed have live births! Any birth is a miracle of nature, including that of the oviparous and ovoviviparous reptiles.