I have replaced the white water lily photo in the header with a pic I took of a favorite lizard species, the Florida scrub lizard (Sceloporus woodi). It is endemic to Peninsular Florida and found only in xeric, high pine scrub habitats. Its populations are highly disjunct due to strong habitat exclusivity, as high pine scrub also occurs in highly scattered, isolated locations. Possibly, this serpent evolved during Plio-Pleistocene times when sea levels were higher and the peninsula was reduced to a few islands. I never once saw it in the citrus groves on the Lake Wales Ridge when I used coverboard traps to assess herps along the pipeline route last summer, although nearly every other (if not all other) lizard species occurring on the Ridge was present.
Ok, I have an id on last weekend’s mammal tracks. I corresponded with a professional animal tracker, Kim A. Cabrera (http://www.bear-tracker.com/), who assured me that they are from the common raccoon, Procyon lotor. I was fooled by the way thin toe prints can become widened in soft sand. Here’s a synopsis of how different they are compared to ‘coon tracks in mud or clay:
1. The prints are up to 3 inches long and 3 inches wide. Although raccoon tracks can be that long, they are typically appx 1.5 inches in width; however, I suppose the wet sand sediment might not have provided firm enough support to the weight of the animal, resulting in the toes splaying apart.
2. The toe pads are as wide as they are long whereas raccoon tracks are longer than wide. This could be the result of the sand being "splashed" outward as the animal bounded along two paws together at a time (prints were always nearly equally side-by-side in the sand). After revisiting the pic, I can see where there is an "axis" to the toe prints, indicating the toes are not rounded but are more elongate.
3. There are no claw marks above any of the tracks, whereas raccoon tracks generally display light claw marks when walking slowly. I do note, however, that Cabrera’s website shows some raccoon tracks clearly without claw marks. In the photo on my blog, I can barely see possible claw marks on the left print but no claw marks on the right.
Ok, ok, I’ll admit I’m sometimes too left-brained!