Florida lizards, turtles and snakes! Oh my!

[Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of occasional articles on regional culture. It was written by the CTL’s Laurie Hansen.]

It’s not as sweet as Sugar on Snow, but running after (or away from) small, harmless reptiles is a common pastime here in South Florida. Yes, folks, we have lizards, turtles, snakes and gators roaming in the neighborhood grass. Ok, maybe we don’t have gators here, but we did at our first house in Boynton Beach. A six foot alligator often sunned himself at the end of our patio, next to the lake, while my little hors d’œuvres, I mean, daughters, played on the other side of the sliding glass doors of the lanai.

If little creatures that scurry under your feet creep you out, you may not want to walk through our garden here in Delray Beach. One of the local pastimes of SoFlo kids is chasing and, if they are swift and lucky, catching lizards. You’ve got to be quick; they are not easy to catch!

South Florida is also home to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center where scientists and naturalists work diligently to protect our sea turtles. We were privileged to watch them release the hatchlings one warm, dark summer evening on the beach. It was a unique experience.

Speaking of babies, my youngest, like me, loves all things baby. One day while gardening I found tiny white eggs in the shrubs. My little one picked up a smooth, leathery, thimble-sized egg and sang, “Awww, a baby…” then she kissed it. Mommy snake was nearby. That’s where the running came in. Yikes!

Pictured left: My daughter holding her most recent catch, a brown anole; she set him free shortly after the photo was taken.

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