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Reptile and amphibian signs of spring

Although we are still technically in winter here in Atlanta, as usual, the weather just can’t make up its mind and we are having some very warm, sunny days lately. Usually during this time of year, most reptiles and amphibians are tucked away waiting for spring to sprung. However, some of our scaly and slimy friends are active. Some, like the upland chorus frog (Pseudacris feriarum) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), are already out in temporary wetlands calling and breeding. You can recognize their advertisement calls pretty easily as the chorus frog call is very similar to the sound of running your thumb down a plastic comb, and the spring peeper, well, PEEPS!

But also of note this time of year, at least on my front porch, are green anoles (Anolis carolinensis), which seem tolerant of somewhat cooler temperatures than do our other native lizards and are getting very active in this warm spell. Most of us probably know this lizard pretty well. They’re often called “chameleons,” although they aren’t closely related to true chameleons or even look very much like them, although they have some dramatic color changing abilities. Typically, they shift from a bright green, often with a whitish line down the back to dark brown. During the warmer months, you can often see the males displaying their bright red dewlap to attract a female or ward off competition from another male. But this time of year they are usually more subdued, just taking in the sunshine until the weather turns cold again. In my case, they are just hanging out on my front porch, watching the world go by just as I often do on nice warm, sunny, but not TOO hot days. They make nice scaly company!

So, despite us being in the so-called “depths of winter,” there is still some scaly and/or slimy activity to observe! And of course, no matter the weather, there is ALWAYS scaly and slimy action happening in Scaly Slimy Spectacular!

(photo: Robert Hill)

Robert Hill
Associate Curator of Herpetology

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