Search engine and keywords used: Google search for 'big reptiles', 'alligators', etc, Wikipedia and other sources for researching the ecologic niches of the reptiles I intend to adopt, but I have no idea how to go about researching my main question, so even search-word suggestions would be most welcome.
I want this culture to use reptiles like the Western medieaval and Renaissance cultures used big, predatory mammals. For example, stone-carved wyverns at the entrances of public buildings, crocodiles and iguanas in the heraldry, sayings like 'strong like an alligator' instead of 'strong like a lion', pet lizards instead of cats, etc, etc... I figured the best way to do this would be to substitute most of the big, predatory mammals in the local fauna for reptile equivalents, to make it logical for this culture to adopt them as symbolic animals, but I know very little about ecology and I don't know if this change would be feasible or what kind of (unexpected) consquences it could have. I don't want to wipe off all mammals from existence (I need cows, oxes, some horses and mules), but I want reptiles to take precedence. And I don't want to sprain my wrist hand-waving the ecological concerns away!
Or, maybe you could just tell me if, with just a high-number of reptile species in this world, you'd find it believable if the culture adopted them as symbols instead of the traditional mammals we did on Earth.
I have access to my University library and on-line scientific journals, so any reading reccommendations would be most welcome!