Evolutionary Biologist and Nature Photographer

Reptiles and Amphibians

I’ll have the ‘Cuisses de Grenouille’ please

The family Colubridae is the most diverse family of snakes with almost 2,000 species, though this group is non-monophyletic (that is, in evolutionary terms, the group does not contain all descendants of the most recent common ancestral species).  Thus, this family requires a great deal of work by taxonomists to sort out the natural groups and determine relationships among them.

Leptophis is a genus of colubrid snakes, commonly called parrot snakes.  Parrot snakes are long, slender, bright green snakes found in the tropical forests of Central and South America.

The parrot snake shown in the first two images below, Leptophis ahaetulla (Colubridae), had just found itself a hearty meal. Despite having obviously lost this battle, the frog did not give up the fight so easily, as it kicked and squirmed until the very end. If you look at the expanded body of the snake you can see just how large this frog was – the snake was more than 4 feet in total length.  Notice that the skin stretches as the snake swallows the frog – the blue coloration is the skin beneath the green scales.

(Click the images to see them in full size)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) eating a frog, La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla)

Parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla) eating a frog, La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

The next three photos are a second species of parrot snake, Leptophis depressirostris, barely distinguishable from the species shown above except for one scale between the eye and the nostril (just learned this interesting fact today from a friend, Ethan).

In the picture below, this parrot snake is demonstrating its incredible and intimidating defensive display.

Satiny Parrot Snake

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Below you can see the body of a large tick, full of blood, attached under a scale on the snake’s neck.

Satiny Parrot Snake

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Satiny Parrot Snake - Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae)

Satiny Parrot Snake – Leptophis depressirostris (Colubridae), La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica


Peek-a-boo

I was out hiking the other day looking for harvestmen and spiders, but almost every large rock I turned yielded a salamander!  Here’s one of the little guys hiding in some leaves.

North Carolina Salamander

A salamander from western North Carolina

The above image is actually a stack of two photos to get the depth of field I wanted on the face of this salamander.


Red-Eyed Tree Frog

I love photographing herps!  Especially the Red-Eyed Tree Frog of Central America.  This frog is so photogenic that it is difficult to take a bad picture of these spectacular animals!  These frogs are commonly represented as the face of conservation efforts to save the rainforest.  Many frogs (and other amphibians) are rapidly becoming endangered because of habitat loss as well as the spread of a deadly chytrid fungus called Bd.  See below for links to more information.

I recently submitted this photo to the “Art of Nature” photo contest on PhoozL.com .  Click the first image below and it will take you to the PhoozL gallery for the contest.  Its free to enter, so submit your own photos!

Here are some of my other favorites.  I just never get tired of seeing these amazing frogs!

Here’s some links in case you are interested in learning more!

http://www.savethefrogs.com/

http://www.amphibianark.org/the-crisis/chytrid-fungus/

http://www.amphibians.org/