How Do Reptiles Show Affection? (Can They Love??)

Reptiles are a group of animals that breathes air and has scales instead of hair or feathers. There are about 6,000 different species of reptiles living in the world today!

Have you ever wondered how these animals show affection? Here, we will look at how some of the most common types of reptiles show their affection. 

How do reptiles show affection?

It’s hard to generalize as reptiles are such a diverse group of animals, but generally, reptiles do not show much affection towards their owners. They accept them and don’t run away when being picked up or held. Some reptiles do get more relaxed when being pet which is a form of affection, though.

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How do snakes show affection? 

Snakes do not show affection in the way that you may expect from other pets, such as dogs or cats. This is because scientists have found that snakes do not have the emotional capacity to show affection.

With that being said, snakes will learn to accept their handlers. This is about as much affection that pet snakes will give you. But do not take this lack of affection as that your snake does not like you. 

How Do Reptiles Show Affection? Infographic
How Do Reptiles Show Affection? Infographic

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Snakes will learn to associate you, their owner, with food and get their needs met. Then they will learn that you are not a threat to them.

They will express this by not acting threatened around you or by allowing you to handle them.  

Wild snakes also do not show affection for other snakes. Snakes are very solitary animals, and they do not have friends or create bonds with other snakes.

Additionally, they only have limited care and interaction (if any at all) with their young, so they do not really develop emotional affection for other creatures.  

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How do lizards show affection? 

Lizards are a little bit more affectionate than snakes. Lizards have been shown to have preferences for certain people over others – so they can tell who their owner is and will like them more than other people.

Lizards may show pleasure when they are gently petted or stroked by their owners.  

With that being said, lizards are solitary animals, like snakes, so they do not always show affection in the most expected ways. Also, keep in mind that every lizard is different.

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Some owners of bearded dragons, a popular and well-known lizard, note that their pet lizard gets very relaxed and closes their eyes when they are being petted or held by their owners, which is one way they show affection.  

How do alligators show affection? 

Affectionate Alligator
Affectionate Alligator

To get a glimpse into how alligators show affection, it is important to look at their mating habits and how they care for their young.

Many alligators mate with the same alligator year after year. Alligators may not mate for life, but female alligators often return to an earlier love of theirs. Alligator partners will show their affection for each other by rubbing each other’s snouts and backs.  

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Further, female alligators are great mothers. Unlike many reptiles, alligators are very active in their young’s lives, and they are very affectionate towards their babies.

Mother alligators will show their affection for their hatchlings before they are even out of their eggs by building a big nest for them and protecting them from raccoons and other predators.

Baby Alligators
Baby Alligators

Plus, mother alligators and her babies will vocalize to and communicate to each other through the egg! Once the babies hatch from their eggs, the mother will gently pick them up in her mouth and bring them to the water, and they will stay together for up to two years.

Young alligators also know that they can call their mom, and she will come to their rescue whenever they need it! 

How do turtles and tortoises show affection? 

Affectionate Turtle
Affectionate Turtle

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Turtles and tortoises will not run up to you to show their affection as a dog would. Instead, they show affection in the complete opposite way!

If your pet turtle or tortoise is sitting in place and looking at you, that means that they are feeling content, which is one way they show you their affection.

They may also be particularly interested in something that you are doing – this shows that they want to watch and admire you.  

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These types of reptiles also show affection by stretching out their neck to you (this is their way of showing you that they want to be petted or rubbed by you) or leaning into your touch and closing their eyes.

If you have a free-roaming turtle or tortoise, they may show affection by following you around and just staying a couple of paces behind you.  


Do Reptiles Feel Pain?

Reptiles can feel pain differently from other animals, but reptiles’ anatomy is showing the ability to perceive pain. For example, they can put up resistance when being injected by a vet and show fear.

Reptiles are also capable of feeling anxiety, stress, excitement, and suffering. It is believed that they have evolved to hide their pain to avoid predation in the wild, and that’s why it is sometimes difficult to notice their reaction to pain. Their expressive behavior is slightly different compared to mammals.

How Do Crocodiles Show Affection?

Crocodiles show affection towards their young. Mother alligators are very caring toward their young, where they spend ten weeks protecting the eggs and then stay with the hatchlings for at least the first year of their lives.

Many aspects of their behavior remain unknown due to the difficulty of observing this quite aggressive animal. Biologists showed evidence that crocodiles like to have fun by playing in streams, pushing sticks. They also like to ride on each other’s backs.