Our friend Brendan visited from Texas this weekend, and we had a pretty productive time herping. All told, we observed about 15 species of amphibians and reptiles. I've included the two new species for me first, followed by a few other highlights.
This is the first and smaller of two Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) that we found in conveniently clear water. Their size is intimidating, but they are far less "snappy" than their smaller cousin, the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).
This is a Southern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber vioscai). We found four under logs in a wet lowland area.
Above is a Florida Bog Frog (Rana okaloosae), and below is a young Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata fasciata). These watersnakes are commonly seen in bog frog habitat, and are a known predator of that species.
I was pleasantly surprised to see some Eastern Spadefoot Toads (Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii) on the roads. This species is an explosive breeder that typically remains underground except on nights immediately following or during heavy rains. They get right down to business, and their larvae develop quickly in ephemeral pools of water. Apart from their interesting natural history, I think they just look really unique with that face and those huge eyes.
For those of you that don't know, Sarah has a real knack for seeing cryptic animals, whether it's a Least Bittern hiding in the reeds 150 m away, or this tiny juvenile Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus) whose head could fit in a drinking straw, and whose body is clearly even thinner.