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Q: Do reptiles inseminate through sex, or do they breed the way amphibians or fish do?

*Please note: I’ve divided my response to this question into two sections. The first offers an in-depth explanation and some facts about reptilian and aquatic reproduction. For a quick summary and answer to your question, feel free to scroll down to the “Answer” section at the bottom of the page.

Key Facts about Reproduction:

In order to answer this question and learn a few interesting new facts while we’re at it-let’s begin with covering some basics on how reptiles, fishes and amphibians mate and breed:

Sexual Reproduction in Reptiles:

  • The majority of reptile’s reproductive activity occurs within the cloaca, which the rear, or hind end orifice. In reptiles, this is located his case at the base of the tail, opening in the vent.
  • Most reptiles have “copulatory organs” (e.g., external organs meant for copulation. In humans, this would be the penis).
  • Some reptiles have external penis’s, while others have what’s called a “hemipenis,” or an inverted penis which remains internal until the reptile is ready to mate.
  • Female reptiles have a “cloaca” which the males penetrate while mating.
  • The male’s sperm then fertilizes the female’s eggs.
  • After fertilization, most reptiles lay amniotic eggs
  • These eggs are coated and/or contained in a “calcerous shell” (a chalky, calcium rich/based material).
  • Unlike insects, amphibians, or cnidarians, new born reptiles do not go through a larval stage (a stage of metamorphisis, in which newly hatched animal/insects  transition from a larval, wormlike, or wingless form into a different physical, fully-formed adult state). 

Sexual Reproduction in Fish & Amphibians:

  • Most fish reproduce by spawning, as do most other aquatic animals, including amphibians.
  • Spawning occurs when both the eggs and sperm are released or deposited into water, and then become fertilized.
  • The eggs of amphibians are typically laid in water and hatch into free-living larvae that complete their development in water and later transform into either aquatic or terrestrial adults.
  • In some species, eggs are laid in wet land environments, and larvae completes it’s development by moving into water (as seen in tadpoles, for example). In other species, “direct development” takes place: the larvae develops within the eggs and emerges completely but minaturely formed.

*Check out this article for a more scientific, in depth explanation of how reptiles mate.


So the answer to your question is yes, reptiles breed via insemination during sexual intercourse. But no, they do not breed the way fishes or amphibians do.

Here are some key similarities, and differences between reptilian and amphibian breeding:

  • While reptiles breed via penetration and internal insemination, amphibians breed by grasping the female and inseminating her eggs without penetration, and most fishes breed without any physical interaction.
  • In the cases of both amphibians and fishes, the sperm cells swim to the egg cells, which are then fertilized.
  • Some reptiles lay eggs and others deliver live young. Unlike Amphibians, their young do not under go a larva stage.
  • Amphibians are inseminated in water, with fertilization taking place externally.
  • While reptile eggs have leathery, hard shells, amphibian eggs have no shells and must be kept in water or in wet conditions.
  • Many caecilians and some other amphibians lay their eggs on land, and the newly hatched larvae wriggle or are transported to water bodies.


One thought on “Q: Do reptiles inseminate through sex, or do they breed the way amphibians or fish do?

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