Everglade Rides: Reptiles of the Everglades

Reptiles of the Everglades: Many of the best-known Everglades residents fall within this fascinating class of animals. More than 50 distinct kinds of reptiles inhabit the everglades. These species range from the formidable American crocodile to the diminutive green anole.

Loggerhead turtles nest and live in the marine and estuary habitats of Florida Bay, in the Everglades National Park. They are have brilliantly colored shells and powerful jaws which they utilize to crush their prey. Their primary diet comprises of conchs, horseshoe crabs, and other hard-shelled animals.

Among the coral reefs, inlets and bays of the Florida Bay is where you are bound to chance upon the Atlantic Hawksbill Turtle. It prefers coastlines where there are ample sponges and sandy nesting sites which can be easily accessed. Their ideal habitat consists of warm, coastal shoal waters which are less than 50 feet deep, with plentiful submerged vegetation. Green Sea Turtles live in the tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the Everglades National Park. These turtles get their name from the greenish color of their skin and not for the color of their shells, as it is commonly thought. The color of their shells depends on their habitat and is normally olive or brown.

Leatherback sea turtles are the largest know turtles in the world and are found nesting along the coasts and sandy beaches of the Everglades National Park. in some rare cases, a leatherback turtle has been known to weigh up to a ton! Leatherbacks are normally about 6 feet long. They have leathery shells, instead of hard shells like most other turtles.

As a species, the American alligator is over 150 million years old. Males, on an average, are up to 10-15 feet in length and females are around 9 feet long. These creatures can be seen on the airboat tours, sunning themselves along the banks of the slow-moving river. The American alligator ranges throughout the southeastern United States, and alligators within Everglades National Park exist at the southern extreme of their range. Alligators primarily inhabit freshwater swamps and marshes and can also be found in rivers, lakes, and smaller bodies of water. They can tolerate a reasonable degree of salinity for short periods of time and are occasionally found in brackish water around mangrove swamps even though they lack the salt-secreting glands present in crocodiles.

The eastern indigo snake is a large, black, non-venomous snake found in the southeastern United States. Reaching lengths of almost 9 feet, it is the longest native snake in the United States. Its color is uniformly a lustrous black, although the chin, throat, and sometimes the cheeks may be red to creamy in color. Diet may include fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, turtles, turtle eggs, small alligators, birds, and small mammals. Juvenile eastern indigo snakes eat mostly invertebrates. Eastern indigo snakes are widely distributed throughout central and south Florida but primarily occur in sandhill habitats in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Given their preference for upland habitats, eastern indigo snakes are not commonly found in great numbers in the wetland complexes of the Everglades, though their range extends south to the Florida Keys.

Check out all of these Reptiles on one of our Everglade Rides!