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Florida's Wildlife: Reptiles

Updated on April 26, 2015

Brown Anole

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Spotted Turtle

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I was born and raised in the Sunshine State, and I only moved away (to North Carolina…big mistake there) for about a year. When I came back, it was like coming home even though we had no place to live and were stuck in a hotel for two months. I was just glad to be back.

I was born in Fort Lauderdale. Not a place well known for its wildlife, save for the everglades. But when I moved to Central Florida, I moved into the country. I was surprised to see a deer in my backyard when I woke up one day, and was startled by a horse when I took the dog out one time. But what is really frightening, if you know nothing about them, are the reptiles in this state.

I love reptiles, and Florida is full of them. Allow me to take you on a tour of the reptiles in our beautiful state; most of them happen to be in my backyard.

Chicken Turtle

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Turtles

Florida has 26 different species of turtle, and only one species of tortoise which is known as the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

Eighteen of those 26 species are freshwater turtles, and there are 5 species of sea turtle.

Turtles are protected in Florida and strict rules have been implemented in a conservation strategy. Possession and removal from the natural habitat is prohibited for turtles on the imperiled species list. The native turtle species of Florida (scientific name appears in parentheses) include:

Smooth Soft-Shelled Turtle

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Gopher Tortoise

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Escambia Map Turtle

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  • Spotted Turtle (Clemmys Guttata)
  • Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia)
  • Barbour’s Map Turtle (Graptemys barbouri)
  • Escambia Map Turtle (Graptemys ernsti)
  • River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna)
  • Suwannee Cooter (Pseudemys concinna suwanniensus)
  • Common Cooter (Pseudemys concinna floridana)
  • Peninsula Cooter (Pseudemys peninsularis)
  • Florida Redbelly Cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni)
  • Yellowbelly Slider (Trachemys s. scripta)
  • Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
  • Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri)
  • Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

River Cooter

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Spiny Soft-Shelled Turtle

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Florida Redbelly Cooter

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Pond Slider Turtle

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  • Gulf Coast Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina major)
  • Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)
  • Florida Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentine Osceola)
  • Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macroclemys temminkii)
  • Florida Softshell (Apalone ferox)
  • Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell (Apalone muttica calvata)
  • Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera aspera)
  • Three-striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii)
  • Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubum)
  • Loggerhead Musk Turtle (Sternotherus minor)
  • Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

Alligator Snapping Turtle

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Green Sea Turtle

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Sea Turtles

The five types of sea turtles include:

  • Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
  • Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Atlantic Hawksbill (Eretmochelys i. imbricata)
  • Atlantic Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle

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American Alligator

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American Crocodile

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Crocodilians

There are three species of Crocodilians in Florida, one of which is not native. The two native species are:

  • American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
  • American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

I absolutely adore alligators. To me, they’re just really big lizards with an attitude. They are fiercely powerful creatures having the strongest bite of any living animal with exception of the crocodile. I’ve seen about three to four alligators in the pond in our backyard. They are beautiful to watch. They rarely make ripples in the water when hunting, making them look graceful. They are fast swimmers, but tend to be slow on land, although they can lunge at prey very quickly and can sprint short distances.

I prefer gators over crocodiles. But crocodiles have a stronger bite force and are just as powerful. They live in brackish and salt water and are only found in the very southern part of the state. They prefer to ambush their prey and can reach speeds of up to 11mph on land.

Green Anole

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Squamates

There are numerous reptiles of this order in the state, many of which have been introduced. The order is so large it has been broken down into suborders. The native Floridian reptiles in this order include:

Anoles

  • Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
  • Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

Brown Anole

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Iguanas

  • Florida Scrub Lizard (Sceloporus woodi)
  • Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Teiids (Whiptails)

  • Six-lined Racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus)

Geckos

  • Reef Gecko (Sphaerodactylus notatus)
  • Indo-pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnoti)

Indo-pacific Gecko

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Southeastern Five-Striped Skink

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A Juvenile Five-Lined Skink

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Skinks

  • Mole Skink (Plestiodon egregius)
  • Southern Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus)
  • Florida Sand Skink (Neoseps reynoldsi)
  • Broadheaded Skink (Eumeces laticeps)
  • Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)
  • Southeastern Five-striped Skink (Eumeces inexpectatus)

Lizards (Anguids)

  • Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
  • Mimic Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus mimicus)


Snakes

There are over 40 different types of snakes in Florida, and all of them except one are native. This is a list of the most common snakes in Florida and is far from complete.

  • Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea)
  • Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)

Southern Black Racer

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Common Garter Snake

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Eastern Coral Snake - VENOMOUS

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Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake - VENOMOUS

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  • Southern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus punctatus)
  • Corn Snake (Elaphe g. guttata)
  • Yellow Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata)
  • Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
  • Southern Hognose Snake (Heterodon simus)
  • Coachwhip (Masticophis f. flagellum)
  • Gulf Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii clarkii)
  • Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata)
  • Florida Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris)
  • Florida Green Water Snake (Nerodia floridana)
  • Brown Water Snake (Nerodia taxispilota)
  • Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus)
  • Florida Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi victa)
  • Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis)
  • Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) Venomous
  • Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) Venomous
  • Pygmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) Venomous
  • Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius) Venomous
  • Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) Venomous

Cottonmouth Snake, AKA Florida Water Moccasin - VENOMOUS

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Pygmy Rattlesnake - VENOMOUS

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Timber Rattlesnake - VENOMOUS

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Florida isn’t just about sandy beaches and sunbathing. The state is alive with wildlife, and boasts 4 national forests, one of which is about a mile up the road from my home. The 4 forests are Apalachicola, Everglades, Osceola, and Ocala National Forest. We also have a great number of national parks including DeLeon Springs, home of the DeLeon Springs Pancake house where you can make and cook your own pancakes right on, yes on, your table. The pancakes are amazing!

Florida will always be my home and the wildlife continues to enlighten me as well as provide valuable homeschool lessons for my daughter on conserving nature and coexisting with it. Florida has a very delicate ecosystem because of the nature of its swamp lands. I’m reminded daily of the necessity of preserving Mother Nature and her wildlife children. All animals are beautiful creatures and a vital part of any ecosystem. This state has a spirit all its own, and I will never leave again!

© Copyright 2012 by Daughter of Maat ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Some Beautiful Footage of the Mighty Alligator

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    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you DrMark. I do love our wildlife. Having two gators in the pond behind our home is awesome too, except for mating season lol.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Great review. You are fortunate to have so many reps there. I´ll shart this on my twitter.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you Angela! There were actually so many pictures of wildlife in Florida, I had a hard time choosing them. They were all so gorgeous!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      What a great article I wish I had printed this off before visiting florida. Beautiful pictures as well.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I know!! I much prefer the gators, the crocs are just not as graceful to me. And they are mean. Gators usually won't attack humans, they don't hunt for pleasure. But crocs do, they kill just to do it. Scary stuff!

      I love turtles, they are magical and they can be omens as well. My hubby just saw one the yesterday, along with a raven. We're still trying to figure out what it means. Things have gotten stressful as of late and I think Mother Nature is trying to tell us something. Do you know the meaning of a turtle omen? I haven't found the book I'm looking for yet and it's driving me nuts! lol

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      Did you know that there's actually a Florida Crocodile? I didn't know that for a very long time, I thought there were just gators. The crocodiles are UGLY too...and very mean. Meaner than gators. Awesome hub, the turtles are magical. :)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Have you ever watched "Weird, True, and Freaky" on Animal Planet? I was just watching it the other day and there was a Zorse but it was so cool, it was a patchwork zorse. The mother's coat was patched white and brown and the baby came out with patches of white and zebra stripes!! SO awesome! I love lygers and tigrons too!!

      I'm not sure if they'd attack each other, but with that weird of a combination, they might, they're both territorial!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Coolness. I guess they might attempt to attack one another once the lov'n was over, too? lol

      I'm interested, too. I love Lygers and Tigons! Mentioning zebras and horses, some years ago a little circus/petting zoo came through the area and they had the cutest little thing- it was half pony and half zebra. The mother (the zebra) was so tame, too; the owners would give kids apples and oats to feed her and she ate right out of your hands. She was a darling!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      It's a possibility, it's highly unlikely that it would happen in a natural habitat. They are so similar in physiology that, theoretically, an alligator could fertilize a crocs eggs and vice versa, but it would have to happen in captivity and be facilitated by humans. There is actually a few documentated cases of interspecies breeding (although not with gators and crocs that I know of) between a horse and a zebra (which apparently works quite well). They're called Zorses. Horse and zebra physiology are just as close as alligators and crocs. So, it's theoretically possible, just highly unlikely. :D

      I happened to be interested in the same question, can you tell? lol

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      Whoa, Daughter of Maat, what a fascinating list! Some of those turtles and tortoises are soooo cute. We don't see enough tortoises these days in the hills and I really miss them.

      Let me ask you something - do you know if the gators and crocs ever mate with one another? My husband and I were discussing this possibility some months ago and I'm still curious.

    • profile image

      brianna 5 years ago

      i love reptiles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you! We have so much wildlife here, I'm actually working on a hub about our birds, which are beautiful and numerous! I'm a Floridian and I was in awe!! I don't know what part of Florida you're going to, but if it's near swamp land, watch out fer them there gaters.... lol :D

      Thanks for the vote and I hope you enjoy your stay here in our beautiful state! If you're in the northern central area, find an orange grove and try one, they are the sweetest around because of the light frost we get up here.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Wow - you have some beautiful and scary wildlife there! This is an excellent and informative hub - I will be in Florida later this year, and I'm getting excited about what I might see while there. Thanks!

      Voted up and up!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you Frank! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I learned quite a bit about my state in the process!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      D of M what an educational share I enjoyed the read :) Frank

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Indeed! I thoroughly enjoyed researching this subject, and actually found a few websites like the Florida national forest website and others that helped me with "field trips" for my daughter while I learned about an important part of our state. This was one of those articles that, while specifically focused on one topic, also provided education that carries over to other areas of life. Those are the articles that are the most fun to write and I think, the reason many of us do write. I think I might do one on Florida's native plants as well! :D

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      That's the best part of writing for me. I love researching and getting lost in the learning.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thanks for stopping by Alastar, I always enjoy your comments. I checked on the pine snake just for fun, and no it's not on the list. But $12.95 is pretty cheap for a 6 foot snake!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Maat, too bad N.C. was a bummer for you but the central Fla. countryside sure is treat for any reptile lover. Love the cold-blooded critters too and when i was a boy in the early 70s ordered a 6-foot pine snake from Fla. for $12.95, can you believe it! Thery're probably on the endangered species list now.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Good to read about the animals of Florida. I guess Florida state itself has lots of snake farms. I like your hubs and i learn alot from them.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you phoenix! I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I actually learned quite a bit about Florida's wildlife while doing the research!! :D

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I enjoy reading about wildlife and this hub was a great read. The photos were fun to look at as well.

      Voted up, interesting, useful and awesome.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
      Author

      Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I think they're an acquired taste! Thanks for the vote!

    • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image

      Dubuquedogtrainer 5 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

      Interesting - voted up! Very well written and well laid out! I do not like reptiles at all, which is why I live up north - fewer of them!