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FLORIDA
December 2011
1 of 2
FLORIDA
December 2011
1 of 2
          
Family vacation once again in Miami, starting with a visit to one of our favorite parks, where exotics have now become regulars.     This was a strange experience. As we’re strolling through the park, a Cattle Egret attaches itself to our group, following us everywhere.  This is sort of a natural behavior.  The bird’s name comes from a habit of trailing just behind cattle to scarf down any insects that are kicked up by the grazing herd. Apparently this egret confuses us with cattle (a common occurrence with my family) and tags along, hoping we’ll disturb something edible.  As it happens, the most abundant food source is reptile, specifically, Brown Anoles (Anolis sagrei).  Dozens of lizards are expertly caught and swallowed, as the bird stays with us for nearly an hour, walking by our side like a well-trained dog.       Birds aren’t the only animals to follow us.  The ponds in the park are filled with turtles who have habituated to visitors.  Whenever we walk by the water, these Softshells approach, even crawling out on land, expecting a hand-out.   More exotics.  Iguanas are so common in South Florida they’re practically considered natives at this point.  On the other hand, there’s this turtle we don’t recognize.   It’s clearly not one of the locals, but Ron and I don’t recall ever seeing this species here in Florida before, though it does remind us of turtles we’ve seen in Costa Rica.  Turns out there’s a good reason for that. After showing the photo to some fellow herpers, we get a positive ID, and indeed, it is a Costa Rican species.  But more than that, it turns out to be the first reported sighting in this country!  One of the herpers, a doctoral candidate, researched the relevant databases and discovered there are no previous records in the US, so he’s preparing a field note for publication.       Back at my mother’s house, there’s the usual collection of back-yard herps Anoles, Cuban Tree Frogs, Geckos, etc.  We see lots of these . . .    . . . but it’s been many years since one of these appeared.  This one was dug up by Ron’s wife, Lorisa, when she was doing some gardening.   Of course, we make sure to get out into the Glades.   Flipped a Ringneck and a Brown Snake from under cardboard.  Although normally docile as a piece of string, this Ringneck ferociously tried to eat my daughter.       
Red-headed Agama Agama agama
Florida Softshell Turtle Apalone ferox
Green Iguana Iguana iguana
Black River Turtle Rhinoclemmys funerea
 Karyn Grunwald
Eastern Glass Lizard Ophisaurus ventralis
Mediterranean Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus
Florida Redbelly Turtle Pseudemys nelsoni
Mosquito Fish Gambusia
Florida Brown Snake Storeria victa
Southern Ringneck Snake Diadophis punctatus punctatus