do reptiles breathe with lungs

How do Reptiles Breathe?

Reptiles are some of the most diverse animals on Earth. Scientists distinguish them from other animals by their scaly skin, oviparous reproduction, and their breathing mechanisms. The question of how exactly reptiles breathe is an intriguing one, as the answer may in fact surprise you.

Breathing in Reptiles

Contrary to popular belief, not all reptiles breathe exclusively with lungs. Some species, such as the sea turtle, breathe almost entirely with specialized organs called branchial (gill) plates which are situated within their throat.

The majority of reptiles on the planet, however, use lungs to breathe. While the anatomy of the lung between reptile species may vary, they still share a common trait in that they need to bring air and oxygen into the body and then expel carbon dioxide out. Within the lungs, oxygen is passed from the air and across thin red blood cells into the bloodstream, allowing the animal to live.


Some species of reptile have large, powerful lungs. This is especially true for those who spend a significant amount of time in the air, such as the flying dragon lizards found in Australia. On the other hand, some species of aquatic reptile, such as sea turtles, have no need for a strong lung system as they receive the necessary oxygen from the water itself.

Reptiles have adapted to many different climates and have adapted to survive in some of the toughest, most extreme environments on the planet. As a result, they have had to develop abilities to thrive, including how they breathe.

Final Thoughts

From sea turtles breathing using their gills to lizards soaring through the air with the aid of their powerful lungs, reptiles have certainly evolved to breathe in the most efficient way for their specific habitat. While there are exceptions, the majority of reptiles on the planet use lungs to breathe.

Overall, understanding the breathing mechanisms of reptiles is an important part of learning about these amazing creatures. Now that you know, pass on your newfound knowledge and help spread awareness of how and why reptiles breathe!

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