Amphibians and Reptiles – Overview

Amphibians & Reptiles of Cumberland Island

Authors:   C. Robert Shoop and Carol Ruckdeschel
Date:   2001

Common and scientific names follow J. T. Collins (1997), Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians and Reptiles, 4th Edition (Lawrence, Kansas, Society for the Study of amphibians and-Reptiles). Species are arranged by group and alphabetical order of scientific name. Names in freld guides, especially older editions, may differ from those used herein.

Cumberland Island National Seashore was established in 1972 and includes Cumberland Island, the largest barrier island along the Georgia Coast, and privately owned Little Cumberland Island. A large portion of Cumberland Island is congressionally designated Wilderness, albeit with some temporary non-conforming uses until retained rights expire. The island is an International Biosphere Reserve and is mostly undeveloped. Habitats include oak forest, scrub forest, fresh water sloughs and temporary ponds, a freshwater lake, interdune meadow, pine forests, tidal creeks, and salt marsh.

The herpetofauna is diverse, including at least 59 species, but several species present on the adjacent mainland have not been found on the island. Nevertheless, many species are common and easily observed or are found only in restricted areas of the island. Some treefrogs and lizards are especially common and except on the coldest days may be seen by visitors. We encourage island visitors to observe these beautiful and ecologically important animals when possible.

Three species of snakes on the island are dangerously poisonous, so it is important to be able to recognize these animals and not provoke them. Any of the popular field guides such as the Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians by Conant and Collins or the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians by Behler and King provide color pictures of all of the island species and information on ranges, size, and key characteristics.

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