Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sweetwater Wetlands Park Part 2: A few reptiles

In the first post about Sweetwater Wetlands park, I focused on the flashier residents with feathers.
I did come across a few reptiles in my short visit and herps always make me happy, so here they are.
 This Florida Softshell turtle was crossing one of the graveled elevated dikes that separate the basins of this human engineered wetlands.
I gave that coiled spring of a neck the respect it deserved and kept my parts out of the lightning strike zone.
You wouldn't guess it to look at this photo, but the softshell has a redonkulously long neck for its size.

 Feel free to chime in on the correct identification of these mating snakes. I'm pretty good on my Florida snakes, but our variety of freshwater watersnakes, mudsnakes, and crayfish snakes are a weak spot.
I wish I could see some belly markings.
I don't see real obvious banding ... so, hmmm.

What I do see is a large (assuming) female engaged by 2 smaller males. 
It's certainly warm enough this winter to feel the tug of Spring frolics already in mid-January.

 Like nearby Paynes Prairie State Preserve, Sweetwater seems to be a great place to see alligators. 
In the short time I was there, I saw about ten.
They were mostly doing what these two are, but one was way up on the elevated dike walkway soaking up some sun.

I would imagine coots are a staple food item for gators based on these last two photos.
The official size category for this gator is "nightmare".
Use the coots as a size reference.
This is why your dogs are not welcome at the park.
...but you are and you should go visit this gem.


Lisa Greenbow said...

Interesting critters. I can imagine snakes in FL mating. Heck, it is 64F here today. Several days of almost record temps this January. Crazy.

threecollie said...

We finally saw a couple of gators on the last trip to Florida. Mating up here is beginning in the form of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks flying over the barn carrying a stick. Gonna be a while for the herps. lol

Wally Jones said...

Just read both parts about your Sweetwater visit and enjoyed them thoroughly! I believe the consultants who designed Sweetwater had a hand in Lakeland's Lake Hancock Outfall Wetlands, which has become a bird and critter magnet (hopefully it will soon open to the public).

Great images! But now you're gonna hafta to schedule a make-up trip to Payne's Prairie.....

robin andrea said...

You do see some of the coolest, cold-blooded critters there in Florida. I can't imagine what it's like to walk around a place that has alligators milling about. Although, now that I think of it, we do hike around places that have mountain lions. It's not often we get to know what it's like to be a coot! Great photos.