The Cuban brown anole, Anolis sagrei, is a non-native species very well established throughout the entirety of peninsular Florida (and increasingly-so further to the north and west). Adapted to scratching a living fairly low to the ground, Brown anoles are fast and acutely alert lizards. They’re also primarily diurnal, which made this individual a treat to work with. By this time (8:30 pm or so in late November), Brown anoles are typically bunkered down for the night. I found this one hanging out near a small human structure, calmly coping with the relative cool of south Florida’s version of late-November.
The Scarlet-bodied wasp moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is a distinctive and vivid species ranging throughout the coastal regions of the American southeast and the entirety of the Floridian peninsula. Though it has the word “wasp” in its common name, this is a moth through and through. With a life cycle limited to 50-60 days, this species certainly knows how to rock coloration in its final, adult form; its red base with blue accenting is particularly striking. Though not necessarily “common” where I live, I do see these moths clamoring around our home from time to time in the evening hours. The Scarlet-bodied wasp moth is hard to miss — even though they are rather tiny.
Is there anything quite as cute as a super-young and tiny Loggerhead musk turtle? Seriously, look at this kid. Loggerhead musk turtles remain fairly small as adults with carapace length reaching upwards to five inches or so. As for this lad, it was spotted swimming in the crystalline, clear spring-fed waters of Levy county, Florida. Loggerhead musk turtles prefer clean, clear freshwater environments. This tiny tank was certainly happy to retreat back into its aquatic universe after I snapped a few quickfire shots.
A juvenile American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, chilling out on a mild summer night back in 2016. The little gator was on a dirt road flanked by canals lines on each side. A fairly cooperative little scamper for at least a few minutes. And then? BAM! The gator darted back into the safety of the darkened waters.
Fern Hammock Spring is an natural spring situated within Juniper Springs Recreational Area. Whereas Juniper Spring itself is walled in as a controlled swimming area, Fern Hammock still belongs to the turtles and fish. Standing at its edge, you can watch the gentle push of the Florida aquifer waters rising through the light, sandy bottom in soft, delicate swirls. With a little imagination, can you imagine the expanse of time running deeply beneath the tangles of dense foliage and Spanish moss.
A small, reclusive amphibian sporadically strewn across stretches of peninsula Florida, Eastern spadefoots (Scaphiopus holbrookii) spend much of their time burrowed beneath the surface. They’re a bit more prone to coming out at night — especially after a nice, lovely rain.