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Do any reptiles show affection for their babies?

Two greenish lizards facing opposity ways, one is partly on top of the other.

Baby Chinese water dragons. Where is the love? (Photo: Flickr/Deborah Austin)

Do any reptiles show affection for their babies?

March 05, 2013

Q: Do reptiles display any affection for their young?

A: That's an interesting question. The answer in most cases is "no." Almost all reptiles lay their eggs, then leave, and never show interest in the eggs or young again. Certain snakes give birth to live babies instead of laying eggs, but again, after the babies are born, the mother has no interest in them. They are on their own.

Alligators may be exceptions. Crocodiles will help their babies get to the water, but that's the end of their care. Alligators go much further. They help their babies out of the eggs, and then try to keep them close by for several years. The mother will defend them against predators. This behavior seems to indicate affection for the young, though we have no way of knowing what is in an alligator's mind. You can read more about alligators' care of their young here:

-- Answer from Anna N., a biologist on JustAnswer.

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