5 Weirdest Reptiles in The World

Discover some of the weirdest reptiles in the world that you probably didn’t know existed.

Jul 14, 2023byTamara Bray
weirdest reptiles

With over 10,000 species of reptiles in the world, there are some reptiles that look so strange, you may think that they come from another planet. In this article, we will explore some of the weirdest reptiles in the world, both creepy and cute!

5. Mata Mata Turtle

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The Mata Mata Turtle 

This strange-looking creature is known as the Mata Mata Turtle, which in Spanish means “Kill, Kill,” possibly referring to its rather ugly features. Some people in South America will call women they believe are ugly “Mata Mata.”

These small-snouted turtles originate from South America, most commonly in the Amazon. They are characterized by their distinct flat head, long tiny snout, and scaly body. In terms of looks, these poor creatures missed out.

While their name translates into Kill, Kill, these turtles are not dangerous. Mata Mata turtles are quite shy and are rarely aggressive. They do not like being removed from the water! Just be sure to give them a wide berth if you ever do encounter one.

Some people keep these turtles as pets, but they’re not recommended for beginners. If you want a unique pet, check out our guide on exotic animals that make great pets.

4. Gharial

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Female Gharial 

This reptile certainly stands out with its unique long snout and oddly shaped nose. The Gharial belongs to its own species, so while it may look like a crocodile or an alligator, it’s from a completely different family.

The Gharial is part of the Gavialidae family. These long-nosed creatures are typically found in the waters of India and Nepal. Gharials do not spend a lot of time outside of water, only basking in the sunlight for a while.

The male Gharial is uniquely different from females as they have a fleshy growth on the tip of their nose, giving them an even stranger appearance. This fleshy growth is called a ghara, which is the name of an Indian pot. The ghara creates a loud noise when the Gharial vocalizes and attracts females for mating.

These creatures are very shy and are not typically a danger to humans.

3. Pig-Nosed Turtle

pig nosed turtle
Pig-Nosed Turtle 

This reptile, known as Carettochelys insculpta, looks like something out of a Disney film thanks to its almost cartoonish features. The Pig-Nosed turtle is native to the waters of South New Guinea and Northern Australia.

What makes these turtles so interesting, aside from their funny nose, is that their family history can be dated to almost 140 million years, meaning they lived alongside dinosaurs at some point.

Contrary to what they look like, these turtles are known to be quite territorial and aggressive when under stress and when taken out of their environment.

Pig-nosed turtles are omnivores that enjoy plant materials like figs and even flowers. They will eat small animals like insects or crustaceans.

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many of these turtles as there used to be due to the illegal pet reptile trade.

2. Frilled-Neck Lizard

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Frilled-Neck Lizard 

No, this isn’t a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. These izards are found in the forests of Australia and New Guinea. They enjoy spending their days racing up and down trees with impressive speed and accuracy.

While small, the Frilled-Neck lizard can quickly become quite intimidating when they suddenly puff out the frills around their neck and run with their tail waving in the air.

This tactic is meant to scare off threats and warn others to back off. Contrary to popular folklore, these lizards are not poisonous or venomous at all. In fact, when it comes to flight or fight, these lizards prefer running away from their predators.

This lizard has to be quick because they are especially vulnerable to raptors and other predators that have access to trees.

If you do happen to spot one of these lizards, make sure to keep an eye out for their clumsy run. Many people find it to be quite amusing!

1. Mary River Turtle

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Mary River Turtle 

The last weird reptile on our list is the Mary River Turtle. This adorable-looking turtle captured the world’s attention because of its green “hair” and the fact that it breathes through its genitals.

Yes, you read that correctly! The Mary River Turtle breathes through its anus using specialized glands. They are found in freshwater and originate from the Mary River in Australia, hence their name. Not all Mary River Turtles have green hair because it’s not actually hair. It’s just algae that like to grow on these turtle’s shells and bodies. This alga acts as the perfect disguise from predators.

Like many other turtles, the Mary River Turtle is an omnivore that enjoys eating frogs and fish.

Thanks to their clever camouflage, these turtles will lay at the bottom of the river waiting for their prey.

While Mary River Turtles face threats from predators such as Goannas and foxes, their biggest threat is mankind and the trade of their eggs, which is why they are now considered an endangered species.

Tamara Bray
byTamara Bray

Tamara is an animal lover from South Africa with years of experience researching and writing about reptiles of all sizes. She has three dogs, Lulu, Ciri, and Rafiki, all from a rescue organization. In her spare time, Tamara likes to go on trail walks and often has her nose buried in a book.