Reptiles, Snakes and Amphibians
Snakes get bad PR, which undoubtedly aids the survival of these generally shy creatures.
Of the 54 varieties in Louisiana, there are only seven to avoid. These are: copperhead, cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, canebreak rattlesnake, pygmy rattlesnake, Texas coral snake and the harlequin coral snake.
All snakes are carnivorous predators, feeding on live prey such as rodents, insects and various small mammals and amphibians. They are, in turn, prey to hawks, owls and many larger animals. Common harmless snakes include the corn snake, speckled king snake, rat snake, diamond-back water-snake, racers, rainbow snake, Midwest worm snake, crawfish snake and pine wood snake.
Frogs, toads and lizards are not so shy with the green anole lizard being a very common site. The larger brown anole is increasing its territory, having been introduced at the end of the last century. The two species are able to co-exist, as are the common snapping turtle and alligator snapping turtle. Other turtles include the mud turtle, western chicken turtle, southern painted turtle, ringed map turtle and ornate box turtle.
Salamanders and bullfrogs are returning from near extinction.
It's a similar story for the the American alligator, hunted until they were almost an endangered species, but due to changes in hunting laws, they are now a common sight in many of the lakes and rivers.
There is hardly a tour boat in Louisiana that cannot boast views of alligators, with many having regulars, appearing on cue. It's surprising to see what these powerful creatures will do for a marshmallow candy.