Salamanders at Big Cypress Tree State Park, TN

Since our university was on Thanksgiving Break (3rd week of November). I had the honour of visiting Josh Hall’s family in West Tennessee. Josh and I collaborate on a series of projects to study how invasive lizards might be adapted to urban adaptation so we’ve gone down to Miami, FL together a couple times. While we share many common interests and values, one stark difference between us is our views on big cities. I really like big cities because I grew up in one. However, Josh doesn’t share that affinity for busy streets and skyscrapers.

My trip to Josh’s hometown of Milan (pronounce “Mai-Lan” unlike the Italian city) gave me a better idea of our difference! On Thanksgiving Day, Josh showed me the whole town in 20 minutes! Then we came home to celebrate Thanksgiving with the entire family. We had plenty of delicious food and dessert while sharing all sorts of stories.

The day after Thanksgiving we went to Big Cypress Tree State Park. The park was named so because there use to be a Big Cypress tree but it unfortunately burnt down years ago. However, there is still lots of cypress tree and the swamp is great salamander habitat! Joined by Jordan (Josh’s friend) and Hazel (picture below), we went for a stomp in the woods on a cool sunny morning. According to Josh, time seems to slow down in the swamp as you’re surrounded by the serene background of cypress trees.

Without too much effort, we found three species of salamanders, the Mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum), a small-mouth salamander (Ambystoma texanum), and the spotted salamander (Ambystoma opacum).

Hazel with a small-mouth salamander
A marbled salamander next to mole salamander

We then spent a couple hours enjoying the morning before heading home!

wonderful cypress grove

Herp note 6: Conecuh National Forest

Necturus loadingi from the creek named “dog hole”!

Recently the Auburn University Herpetology class took a field trip to the The Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center and bordering Conecuh National Forest. The primary purpose of this trip was to find as many herpetofauna as we could in the span of one day and two nights. While it was a relatively short trip we found over 24 species of herps including frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, and lizards (sorry no caecillians)!

My favorite part of the trip was snorkelling and using the seine nets in many of the ponds we visited. Overall, it was a great trip and I got to see many things I have never seen before.

A male Sceloperus undulatus
Notohptalmus viridescens
(Left to right) Apolone ferox, Sternotherus odoratus, and Pseudemys floridana
Pseudotriton ruber
Hyla avivoca, found this guy stumbling along the way!




Herp note 4: Miami


Snapping a photo of A. carolinensis (photo by Renata B)

~Welcome to the city where the heat is on….
This past weekend, I was very fortunate to have a chance to spend time looking for herps in Miami (Florida, USA) with my colleagues Josh, Tim, and Renata. Our main objective was to collect some brown anoles (A. sagrei) for Josh’s egg incubation thermal spike experiment, and to survey possible location to set up another experiment I will conduct this summer on maternal nest-site behavior of Puerto Rican crested anoles (A. cristatellus).

A. cristatellus perching at Matheson Hammock


Nonetheless, we had some time to survey for herpetofauna at multiple spots including Pinecrest, Matheson Hammock, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne.

Pinecrest – along Red Road and Snapper Creek Canal
We spent almost four hours here and found:
Brown anole, Crested anole, bark anole, Green anole, brown basilisk, Knight anole, African rock agama, and a Green iguana (respectively: Anolis sagrei, Anolis cristatellus, Anolis distichus, Anolis carolinensis, Basillicus vittatus, Anolis equestris, Agama agama, and Iguna iguana).

Matheson Hammock
A. cristatellus and a lot of Agama agama living in the rock wall in the parking lot.

Key Biscayne – Crandon Park and downtown
A. cristatellus, A. distichus, A. carolinensis and Ctenosaura similis (black spiny tail iguana). It was very windy by the beach!

Coral Gables – Peacock Park
A. sagrei, A. cristatellus, and Leiocephalus carinatus (Northern curly-tail lizard). This park was quite busy with people.

Overall, we saw 13 species of herpetofauna (a snake and turtle not listed) despite the windy condition and overcast sky. It was a very fun and productive weekend, and I look forward to spending more time down in Miami over the summer!

If you would like detailed field notes, please feel free to contact me!

juvenile Ctenosaurus similis



Herp note 3: Two-lines

Last weekend I had a chance to go out to Halawakee Creek’s 1st order stream again with the good people from the Warner Lab. We did about an hour of searching on an overcast day and found 22 P. websteri a slimy salamander, a ring-neck snake, and two Two-line salamanders. We also found what appeared to be a bullfrog.


_mg_4221_mg_4211Halawakee Creek




Herp note 2: the frogs are calling, and we must go

P. websteri

It’s the second week of February and what can be more romantic that the sweet sounds of frogs calling for a mate at night? The rain we got here (Auburn, AL, USA) the last couple days only seems to encourage all the *peeps* and *wonk wonks* among other sounds. Continue reading


Herp Note 1: Salamanders and anole in Tuskegee National Forest.

Ambystoma opacum

This weekend I had a chance to go search for some lizards and salamander in Tuskegee National Forest. Given that Alabama is one of the biological hotspots for reptiles and amphibians in the US, I was hoping to see some animals I’ve never seen before. It was a clear cold morning (0-10°C). Continue reading