Pine Woods Snake

When I moved my trash can to drag it to the curb, the biggest worm I had ever seen, ever was hiding underneath it! When I looked closer, the “worm” was actually a gorgeous pine woods snake, Rhadinaea flavilata. (Alternate names include the yellow-lipped snake and brown-headed snake.) Like most snakes, this one didn’t want…

Red-Eared Slider

This common and distinctive turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) carries the dubious distinction of being the most popular pet turtle in the US, and the most traded turtle in the world. Red-eared sliders are native to the southern US, but have popped up pretty much everywhere — Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Carribbean, Israel, Asia, and…

Florida Softshell Turtle

The Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) is found all over the Florida peninsula, as well as into neighboring states. It lives in both freshwater and brackish environments, preferring slow-moving or still water. Instead of the hard, scuted shell of other turtles, the softshell has a cartilaginous carapace covered in tough skin. Color ranges from olive…

Common House Gecko

Another of Florida’s seemingly infinite number of invasive species, Hemidactylus frenatus is another of those critters I just can’t bring myself to remove. Three to five of these generous little lizards live in my roof, emerging at night to eat insects attracted by our porchlight. I find it to be a good trade. They’re supposed…

Southeastern Five-Lined Skink

The southeastern five-lined skink lives, as one might expect, all over the southeastern United States. It looks a great deal like the American five-lined skink, Plestiodon fasciatus, but based on geographic range (this individual was found in central Florida) this is more likely the southeastern than the American five-lined skink. The scientific name “inexpectatus“, which…

Green Tree Python

This gorgeous snake is native to New Guinea, parts of Indonesia, and Australia. As its name suggests, the green tree python (Morelia viridis, also Chondropython viridis prior to 1993) is a bright green snake which lives in trees. It hunts small mammals and reptiles. Being tree-dwelling, they have a characteristic resting pose, wherein they drape…

Timber Rattlesnake

I am quite grateful for thick exhibit glass when photographing venomous snakes; this gorgeous timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens would almost certainly not have posed quite so well without it. Also known as the canebrake rattler, the timber rattler grows to be about 36-60 inches long. It is…

Southern Black Racer

The southern black racer snake (Coluber constrictor priapus) is a black snake with light markings around the mouth, chin, and throat. It reaches approximately 20-56 inches in length. This small, fast snake is found throughout Florida (except for the Everglades and Cape Canaveral). Outside of Florida, it is found throughout the eastern United States, from…

Juvenile Brown Anole

Meet Anolis sagrei, the brown, or Cuban anole. Also known as the Bahaman anole or De la Sangra’s anole, this invasive species originated in Cuba and has wandered north into Florida and much of the southeastern United States, brought by the pet trade and by hiding away with landscaping plants. An opportunistic and fecund species,…

Brown Water Snake

Meet the brown water snake, Nerodia taxispilota, a semi-aquatic snake which lives all over the southeastern United States. It’s one of the most common snakes in Florida. Averaging 30-55 inches long, these snakes live in (as you might guess) watery habitats, including rivers, cypress stands, swamps, lakes, ponds and canals. They are excellent climbers and…

African Rock Python

The largest known snake in Africa, this beautiful thing can get up to 25 feet long. Photo taken at the Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, FL.

Gopher Tortoise

The gopher tortoise is a protected species. They dig burrows which provide shelter for hundreds of other species of animals. I stayed out of his way! Photos taken at the Oakland Nature Preserve, Oakland, FL.