Can You Identify These Scaly Animals?

Ian Fortey

This scaly mammal is related to an anteater. What is it?

Giant pangolins can grow to be over 70 pounds. They live in Africa and sustain themselves mostly on a diet of termites and ants. Pangolins are well suited to hunting termites because their size allows them to virtually destroy a termite mound just by leaning on it.

This intimidating aquatic reptile can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. What is it?

The American alligator was actually once on the endangered species list and it was feared they'd go extinct. Conservation efforts worked so well that the species is now thriving, with over a million animals in the wild.

This massive freshwater fish needs to surface to breathe air. What is it?

The Arapaima fish shares waters with some dangerous predators like piranha. The scales of the Arapaima fish are so thick and arranged in intertwining layers that they're actually able to withstand the bite of a piranha.

This stocky lizard can be found in the Southern US and Mexico. What is it?

Chuckwallas are generally non-aggressive animals that flee from danger. In fact, if one feels threatened it may run to the nearest crevice in between some rocks and then quickly inflate its longs to expand into the space, making it difficult to pull out.

This is one of only a few venomous lizards in the world. What is it?

Gila monsters are the largest lizards native to the United States and are generally kind of lazy creatures. Gila monsters rarely leave their dens, and when they do it's usually just to eat or sunbathe.

This animal is extremely popular as a pet. What is it?

Ball pythons are non-venomous and are the smallest of the python species. They're popular with people who like to have snakes as pets not just because of their manageable size, but because they tend to be pretty laid back as well.

These venomous creatures range from Canada all the way to Argentina. What are they?

The scientific name for a sidewinder rattlesnake is crotalus cerastes. Crotalus comes from the Greek word for "castanet," a kind of hand-held percussion instrument.

This is the largest living reptile in the world. What is it?

The massive saltwater crocodile can grow to lengths of around 20 feet. They also clock in at over 2,000 pounds, or one ton. The world record for largest saltwater crocodile in captivity was held by a croc named Lolong who was 2, 370 pounds.

This animal rears up and hisses loudly when it's annoyed. What is it?

The king cobra is the largest venomous snake in the world, and when it's threatened, it produces a low-pitched hiss to warn off attackers. The king cobra's hiss is so low, in fact, it can often sound like a growl.

This is one of the most popular pets in the world. What is it?

Goldfish are members of the carp family that's actually native to Asia but is common all over the world now thanks to its popularity as an aquarium fish. In outdoor ponds, they're often used to help control mosquito populations.

This venomous snake is sometimes called a water moccasin. What is it?

The cottonmouth gets its name from its habit of opening its mouth to show off its fangs when trying to ward off predators. In stark contrast to its usually brown or black scales, the mouth is bright white and looks like cotton.

This creature usually hides out near the sea floor. What is it?

Black sea bass can be fished all along the East Coast of the United States from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Mexico and are a favorite of anglers for being a good-sized fish that's also pretty tasty.

This is the heaviest snake in the world. What is it?

Though not always the longest snakes in the world (even though they can grow to 30 feet), when it comes to mass the green anaconda is a behemoth. These snakes can reach weights of over 500 pounds!

This is the largest living species of lizard in the world. What is it?

It's been known for some time that the bite of a Komodo dragon is dangerous, not just for the obvious reasons. For a long time scientists believed the dragon just had toxic bacteria in its mouth, but it was later confirmed that Komodo dragons do produce venom.

This carnivore can grow to 15 feet in length. What is it?

Caiman are closely related to alligators and crocodiles. For a time, when the American alligator was a protected species, people would import caiman from the Amazon to be sold in the United States.

This lizard is considered an invasive species in parts of the United States. What is it?

Green iguanas are found across South America and Mexico and usually can be found on rocks and in trees. There's a population on the island of Anguilla that showed up after being transported there by a pair of hurricanes in 1995.

This animal is known for rolling into a ball to defend itself. What is it?

Armadillos actually have a tough carapace that's made up of thousands of little scales called "scutes." Those scutes are made of keratin, which is the same stuff that makes up hair and fingernails.

This little lizard is native to Asia and the Middle East but has become a popular pet around the world. What is it?

When the temperature gets too low for a leopard gecko, it's forced underground. It won't go into hibernation exactly, rather something called brumation in which they still need to drink water but generally don't eat and may do little beyond sleep for months.

This popular pet can live up to 10 years in captivity. What is it?

Bearded dragons are a pretty laid back species which makes it very suitable for keeping as pets. They also have a tendency to wave at each other in a show of species recognition or, in some cases, submission.

This animal is also called a sawback. What is it?

This unusual turtle gets its name from the series of spiky knobs that grow down the back of its shell that tend to make it look a bit like a living dinosaur.

This predator can grow up to 6 feet in length. What is it?

Barracuda have a bit of a bit reputation among fish thanks to their aggressive nature. Barracuda have been known to attack divers for no reason whatsoever, and their sharp teeth can cause a lot of damage.

The males of this species usually have horns while the females do not. What are they?

Even though chameleons have become popular pets over the years, species like the Jackson's Chameleon aren't very social animals. They are territorial and should be kept alone and they also don't really respond well to being handled.

This spiky lizard is sometimes called a toad or a frog, even though it's neither. What is it?

You'd think being covered in tiny spikes would be enough of a defense against predators, but the Texas horned lizard has an extra weird layer of defense as well. When confronted by a predator, it can squirt foul-tasting blood out of its eyes.

This lizard is sometimes called an American chameleon. What is it?

Green anoles have a flap of skin under their chin called a "dew-lap." The dew-lap is usually brightly colored and contrasts with the lizard's green scales. It's used to both attract a mate and to intimidate rivals.

This lizard is known for its ability to run very fast. What is it?

The brown basilisk can grow to be about two feet in length, though much of that will be tail. When startled, it can run away on its hind legs and is even able to run for short distances across the surface of still water.

These lizards can be found in Minnesota, New York, Canada and Texas. What are they?

The five-lined skink is one of only 7 lizard species native to Canada. While it used to be fairly common, in Ontario it's not considered an at-risk species with a population in decline.

This lizard is sometimes kept as a pet, even though it can grow to be four feet long. What is it?

The giant tegu is also known as the Argentine black and white tegu. They're said to be highly intelligent pets, and some owners claim you can even house train them like a dog.

This extremely large lizard sometimes eats crocodile eggs. What is it?

Even though Nile monitors can grow to be around 7 feet long, they're still pretty agile. They can run faster than humans over short distances, and they're also pretty good at climbing trees.

You wouldn't think this lizard is even a lizard at first glance, but it is. What is it?

The Florida worm lizard doesn't have any limbs, which tend to make it look less like a lizard than most animals that bear the name. It also doesn't have external eyes. The eyes it does have are covered by scales and are mostly only useful in distinguishing light from dark.

This snake can be found in backyards all across America and in Canada. What is it?

The common garter snake definitely lives up to its name. Not the garter part, the common part. These snakes can be found from coast to coast and are the most widespread snake in North America.

This Australian snake is one of the most venomous in the world. What is it?

The venom of the death adder is an extremely potent neurotoxin that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. If left untreated, the bite from a death adder could kill a human in about 6 hours.

This is the largest venomous snake in Africa. What is it?

The black mamba has one of the deadliest reputations of any animal on Earth. The snakes are very fast, highly toxic and highly aggressive. Thousands of deaths have been attributed to black mambas over the years.

This small lizard can be found in Southeastern Europe. What is it?

Unlike many lizards, the sharp-snouted rock lizard s fairly tolerant of cold weather. In fact, it can sometimes be spotted out and about even when there is snow on the ground.

This dinosaur-like reptile can be found in India. What is it?

This native of India has a fairly limited range and is found mostly in the Anaimalai or Highwavys Mountains, which is where it gets its name.

This strange reptile has a surprise defense mechanism. What is it?

The secret part of the secret toadhead agama's name comes from its very unusual method of trying to scare off would-be predators. The agama has large flaps of skin on either side of its mouth that it shows off when it hisses, making its mouth look massive.

This reptile is a close relative of the Gila monster. What is it?

The Mexican beaded lizard, like the Gila monster, produces venom. Interestingly, the venom contains enzymes that are being studied for their potential benefits in treating health problems like diabetes.

You can find this lizard all over Europe, and a population has also sprung up in Ohio. What is it?

The common wall lizard can be found through Italy and many other European countries, where true to its name, it likes to stick to walls and bask in the sun. A boy from Cincinnati brought some home from Italy in the 1950s and released them near his house. There's now a massive population in the area.

This venomous snake is common in the Sahara Desert. What is it?

The horned viper's most noticeable features are the horns from which it gets its name. They're actually just large scales above each eye that help protect it from sand and also serve as camouflage.

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About This Quiz

Imagine how different the world would be if humans had scales ... tiny plates of armor that protected us from the elements and made us smooth and sleek. We'd have cool color patterns or functional camouflage. Probably we'd still have found a way to tattoo them and pierce them.  Life would definitely be interesting for the scaly human.  But alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Since we don't have scales of our own, the best we can do is show some appreciation for all the creatures that do. And there's a wide array of animals out there rocking those scales.  From fish in the sea to snakes on the ground and weird little lizards climbing up your walls, there are a ton of scales to go around. That's not to mention the odd mammal that has them.  Did you know some mammals have scales?  You'd better, because they're on the quiz!

Take a moment away from all furry puppies and fuzzy kittens and dive on into the world of fish and reptiles. There are literally thousands of different scaled creatures all around the globe. How many of then do you think you can recognize?  There's one way to find out.  Take the quiz and tip the scales in your favor!

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