Every October 21 is National Reptile Awareness Day. Godzilla. Reptar. Yoshi. The Geico Gecko. Those two lizards that always hang out around your back porch. These are just a few of the famous reptiles we love. But on October 21, we celebrate all of our cold-blooded friends. This day is observed to educate and raise awareness of threats to the natural habitats that our reptilian companions rely on to survive.
History of National Reptile Awareness Day
While the history of reptiles may go hundreds of millions of years back, National Reptile Awareness Day has an unfortunately short history in comparison. Additionally, it wasn’t really until 1966 when the first Endangered Species Act was passed that awareness of the needs and threats facing reptiles (or any animal, for that matter) started to make its way into our cultural mainstream. With the passing of that act, a mid-century push toward conservation started taking the forefront. Updates were passed in 1967 and 1969. Additionally, in 1967, the Environmental Defense Fund created their historical efforts to ban DDT from usage in the United States. Much of this was movement was sparked by Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, which documented the adverse effects pesticides and other chemicals have on the environment. National Reptile Awareness Day wouldn’t exist without the efforts of that movement. In fact, many reptiles wouldn’t be around today without the help of the Endangered Species Act. While National Reptile Awareness Day may have a small history compared to its subjects, its still part of a historically important movement to help protect and conserve all species of animals.
National Reptile Awareness Day timeline
Reptiles are considered to have evolved from amphibians around this time. While many have perished along the way due to mass extinction, many (such as crocodiles and sea turtles) still remain
The end of "The Age of Reptiles," a period of time where dinosaurs and other massive reptiles roamed around as if it were Jurassic Park. This began "The Age of Mammals," while, despite the name, reptilian species continued to diversify and thrive but at a much, much, much smaller size.
The loggerhead sea turtle, one of the more famous reptiles, is listed as endangered, mostly due to bycatch in fishing gear but also because of loss of nesting habitats.
The American alligator is officially removed from the protected species list, making a remarkable comeback from near extinction after spending twenty years on the list.
National Reptile Awareness Day FAQs
When is National Reptile Awareness Day?
National Reptile Awareness Day is every year on October 21.
How do I celebrate National Reptile Awareness Day?
There are many ways to celebrate National Reptile Awareness Day, such as donating to a reptile conservation, visiting a national park, or learning to identify reptiles.
Is a turtle a reptile?
The placement of turtles within the reptile kingdom has historically been up for debate, but so far they are still considered to be reptiles.
National Reptile Awareness Day Activities
Donate to a reptile conservation program
There are a lot of different organizations that want to continue educating the public about our reptilian friends. One way they do this is by also advocating for us to have the ability to keep reptiles as pets. Donate to your favorite organization to help them continue being the voice for reptiles.
Visit a National Park
Regardless of what part of the country you live in, reptiles play a major part in your ecosystem. By visiting your nearest national park, you're helping promote a place that is dedicated to preserving the natural habitats for all animals that live in that area - including, of course, the reptiles. Some notably reptilian parks are Joshua Tree, Big Bend, and the Everglades.
Identify a reptile (or two, or three)
Consumer science is an important part of helping researchers understand where our cold-blooded friends live and their population densities. Many identification apps are created by institutions to help draw in that data. If you see a lizard or other reptile, use an app to ID it. This helps scientists understand where certain populations live and how well they're adapting among us. The Audubon Reptiles & Amphibians app is a great place to start.
Why We Love National Reptile Awareness Day
Their body armor
Reptiles are known for having thick skin, literally. Their armored body is made up of scales or boney plates (yes, some have their bones on the outside) to protect them from the daily wear and tear. How cool is that?!
Lizards, turtles, and snakes, oh my!
Because some of the most awesome characters/creatures on TV, or in the films we watch, are reptiles. They are sometimes dramatized to be huge and scary, like Godzilla, and other times are hilarious, like the Geico Gecko.
They make the best pets
No backyard to have a dog? No problem! Most reptiles can be kept indoors in naturally adorned tanks. They are easily maintained and make for an educational experience for kids learning about the environment.
National Reptile Awareness Day dates