Reptile leather

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Reptile leather

Reptile leather comes from snakes, lizards, crocodiles and alligators. It is usually used to make expensive shoes and handbags.

The difficulty in producing leather from reptiles is, generally, that their skin structure is less stretchy and has a lower total usable surface, compared with mammals. Undamaged reptile skins are rare and, in contrast to cattle, the rest of the animals cannot be used profitably for other purposes (food production etc.). For crocodiles, only the belly and skins of younger animals are processed as leather. This makes reptile leather significantly more expensive. Usually hides between 28 and 35 cm width are used.


Since 1976, the threat of extinction has prevented the sale of many reptile leathers or they can only be sold under strict rules (CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora).

Legitimately sold reptile leather has a seal of the International Reptile Federation and a reptile species protection label, which gives information about the year and place of manufacture, manufacturing company, reptile species and article group by means of a number code.

These leathers come from reptile farms such as the Samut Prakarn Farm in Bangkok, Thailand, where about 20,000 reptiles are kept on 400,000 square meters and about 10,000 hides are produced each year. A farm of comparable size is also located in Mombasa, Kenya.



Python leather.




Lizard leather. Handbag of green iguana.



Crocodile leather.



In Italy, there is a material which is used for bags called "Cocco-Ligator". The manufacturing process appears to be patented. In this process, fibres of split leather from crocodiles and alligators are heated, then provided with a high-gloss surface and then glued to a further leather layer. The method is also referred to as the "ligathor method". The surface is embossed to look like a crocodile's skin.

Although this leather is advertised as innovative and as something special, it is only heat-bonded leather fibres from split leather, which is then glued onto another leather. It is questionable whether the material should be declared as "leather" at all. The consumer might think that it has to do with real exotic leather, as it is according to the description, but the base material is waste obtained from the production of reptile leather.

Video about leather of different animal species

Leather of different animal species. - Exotic leather.

Additional information

Other exotic leather