I have found one of the most accidental places to herp, especially here in Florida, is my own backyard. I rarely ever intentionally set out to find any animals when I step outside, maybe that is why every time I see any of my reptilian or amphibian neighbors it is such a treat. Although I have only found ten species to date, encounters with some are not common and always have me running inside for my camera. To begin I will feature the most common of all herps in this area, including my backyard. The Brown anole, (Anolis sagrei), is always a treat, and I never notice how much I miss these guys running around until I go visit family up north. It's always fun to observe these lizards, weather they are just running around, spotting them sleeping on plants at night, or watching them dart for the ground roaches when they emerge when I water the plants.
The next lizard in my yard is the eastern glass lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis). This one always surprises me when I spot it. I have found them under boards or out in the open. They never seem super excitable, and I never would have expected this species to be so adaptable to human habitations.
The Cosmopolitan house gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia) I often find under boards, in my compost, or occasionally the hatchlings find their way into my house! I guess it's because the adults like to lay their eggs in the crevices of my windows and the hatchlings have only two ways to go, in or out. I also enjoy watching them from inside on my windows at night, catching insects attracted by the light.
One of the most vocal amphibians I have living in my yard is the Cuban treefrog, (Osteopilus septentrionalis). They are very vocal after rains, and I often find them living in planters or in the curled unopened leaves of plants. This one was in the center of a bromeliad in a planter.
In early summer young cuban treefrogs are abundant.
Another very common frog is the Greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris). Most often I find these under boards or rocks. Very vocal callers during the summer.
This next amphibian the Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris), is not super common in my yard, but rains in the spring and summer will bring a few around.
This next animal, the Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) is extremely rare in my yard. There is a fair amount in a nearby drainage ditch in my neighborhood so my guess is one wandered away from that area and took up residence under a dead stump. I have only ever seen one in my yard in three years living here.
Of the three snakes I have seen in my yard, the black racer is definitely the most common. I will see them often in all sorts of situations basking or cruising about. I have found their sheds in my gutters, under my down spouts, or under rocks. I can't resist trying to catch them, though my success rate is never very high. By the time I realize one is there it is long gone. This one was basking early one morning in one of our ornamental palms.
These snakes have such a defensive personality! I love the big eyes on the young ones. I remember the day after we moved in I ran out and caught one on our front stoop.
Another not so common sight is the southern ringneck (Diadophis punctatus punctatus) The few I have seen were either out on the move or under stones.
The last snake is the Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus), a relatively harmless invader. I turned my first one up digging up plants in the front yard. It was tangled up in the roots and fell out when I was knocking out some soil. I was really excited at first thinking it was a worm lizard, never having heard of this before and remembering seeing pictures of worm lizards in books as a kid. Well after some research I was a bit disappointed it was not what I though but still excited to have found another lifer. How much I have learned since moving here.
Having such a nice assortment of herps in my yard is a treat, and makes me wonder if I could ever move back to an area with so much less. It only makes me wish I lived in a less urban area to see what that would offer. I guess for now I will be happy with all of my yard residents and who knows, maybe something else may turn up one of these days. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I do! In closing Eastern glass lizard saws "RAWR!"
Thanks for reading!