Without a doubt, Florida is an amphibian and reptile paradise for both the creatures that live there and the human enthusiasts that continue to document their existence. The story of Florida reptiles and amphibian sometimes reads like a book, and for present purposes, it can be told in three basic chapters: Florida climate, Florida geography and Floridians.
The preface begins with a few basic facts. In total, the Florida reptiles and amphibian population numbers approximately two hundred species. Roughly three quarters of them are native species and the remainder are non-native species.
Climate partially explains the great diversity of frogs, turtles, snakes, salamanders and lizards that call the state home. While most people are familiar with the subtropical climate of the south so inviting to beach goers around the world, all of Florida can be categorized as a warm to temperate climate. Abundant sunshine also provides the needed warmth for many of the cold blooded critters.
Geography or habitat begins the diversity story. A quick look at the map reminds us that Florida is a peninsula surrounded by salt water. A more detailed map also shows inland Florida rich in fresh water rivers and lakes. Native amphibian and reptile species in the eastern regions share similar habitat with many species common along the Southeast Atlantic Coast. A similar pattern holds for the types of native species indigenous to the Panhandle and west coast that border the Gulf of Mexico. Varied habitat and temperate weather translates into the northern areas of the state having the greatest diversity of native amphibian and reptile species.
South Florida’s subtropical climate is inviting for many of the non-native species, especially those from the Caribbean area. Similar climates means the non-native species have the ability to establish their own breeding populations in the region. As a result, Florida ranks number one in the number of non-native amphibians and reptiles. The Butterfly Lizard picture at the top of the page shows one of many colorful non-native species found in the South.
Human nature adds another more element into the Florida reptiles and amphibian diversity story. As the state began being settled by westerners, the settlers brought with them an amphibian and reptile enthusiasm. Some of that enthusiasm was market oriented as dealers established themselves to sell and show the creatures as part of the tourist trade niche.
Human nature can also help build our Florida and Amphibian section. The diversity in the state’s population, along with the high number of tourists naturally means there’s a niche population of turtle, frog and snake enthusiasts, snapping pictures.
The buttons divide the amphibian and reptile populations into five different categories: Frogs; Lizards; Salamanders; Snakes; and Turtles. Press any of the buttons and begin reading about or contributing pictures and information to one or more of the categories.