The Smallest Reptiles in the World
It is easy to be impressed by big things. People around the world are in total awe of whales, elephants, giraffes, and komodo dragons. It can be hard being the little guy - especially if you're so little most people wouldn't even see you if you were resting on their bed stand. Below are some of the smallest animals on earth - the smallest reptiles known to man.
The World's Smallest Lizard
Dwarf chameleons were recently in the news when researchers discovered four distinct species living in Madagascar. These tiny little creatures lived in the leaf litter but would come up to sleep in branches at night where scientists with very good eyesight could spot them. The animals were so small the researchers were afraid loss of habitat might make them go extinct in the near future. With this in mind they gave them scientific names that mirrored their concerns, meaning "sad" and "desperate." Personally I would have given them names meaning "hopeful" and "optimistic" but who am I? I'm certainly not a lizard researcher. Juvenile dwarf chameleons can sit on the head of a match but they're not the smallest lizard ever found, that would have to go to a very charismatic gecko - no, not the one on the car insurance commercials, but his distant cousin Sphaerodactylus ariasae which as an adult only grows to be 18mm long. They are also island species, living in Dominican Republic. This one here can be seen stretching out over a dime.
The World's Smallest Turtle
The world's smallest two-headed turtle is the strange distinction given to Teeny & Tiny, beloved freaks owned by the Venice Beach Freak Show in Los Angeles. At six months old this musk turtle is still only the size of a nickel.
However if you are looking for the smallest overall species the North American Bog Turtle holds the record, only growing to a little over four inches at maturity. Sadly their overall adorable size has made them prime subjects for poaching for the black market pet trade. Despite being listed as a threatened species they are still captured for this purpose. In the meanwhile bog turtles that are left in their natural habitat have a hard time replenishing their population because they take 5-8 years to reach sexual maturity and females only lay 1-6 eggs every year after that. The future is not looking so bright for the Bog Turtle, so please if you find one while you're out taking a hike, let it be!
The World's Smallest Tortoise
The world's smallest tortoise is even smaller than the world's smallest turtle. This record belongs to the speckled padloper tortoise of Africa. Males are smaller than their female counterparts and only reach 2-3 inches at full maturity. They are also threatened by poaching from the pet trade as well as predation from introduced species (mostly dogs) and a lack of food caused by the overgrazing of livestock. They don't usually fair well in captivity and when they do breeding them is insanely difficult. These little guys only lay one egg a year.
The World's Smallest Snake
Leptotyphlops carlae was only discovered in 2008 when a researcher flipped over a rock and saw the four inch long snake lying there. It lives in Barbados and probably eats termites and other bugs. Like the smallest tortoise these snakes spend all their reproductive energies making one egg at a time - but it is a very impressive egg! By the time the baby snake hatches from it they are already half the length of their parents. The reason for this might be because a larger clutch size would mean smaller offspring which might not be able to find anything small enough to eat. It's an interesting strategy.