Animals

Story Behind the Photo: Greenhouse Frog

Greenhouse Frog in Safety Harbor, FL

While this photo may not suggest it, Greenhouse Frogs are in fact tiny. This one is only about the size of a quarter and had taken a dip in the pool before posing for this photo. Greenhouse frogs are one of the most common frogs in Florida and live anywhere that is warm and humid, as the name ‘greenhouse’ suggests. Fully grown they are about an inch long and are easily recognized by their chirpy song-like calls. This particular frog and it’s family lives under a plant on my patio and sing most humid nights, or when the plants are freshly watered.

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Story Behind the Photo: Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Safety Harbor, FL

A few weeks ago I snapped this photo of our neighborhood rabbit, Peter Cottontail. He is an Eastern Cottontail rabbit and lives in the lush landscaping of my next-door neighbor’s front yard. I thought he was the only rabbit in my little part of our neighborhood which I realize is rather naive as they are known to breed like, well, rabbits. This weekend we met what I assume is one of his offspring in quite an unexpected way!

Early on Sunday morning my husband noticed ripples across the top of our pool, which was odd as the pump was off. It’s not uncommon for a small frog to get into the pool and make it’s way to the skimmer, and we rescue a few a year. Ready to scoop out the first frog of the season, my husband took the top off of the skimmer and found something furry instead. As it turns out, a small bunny had gnawed it’s way through our screened enclosure and ended up in the pool. We think he was in search of water since it’s dry season here and hasn’t rained for weeks, but who knows for sure.

We have no idea how long he was in the pool, but had thankfully made his way to the little floating flap in the skimmer and was perched on top, keeping his face out of the water. After scooping him out of the pool we realized he had hurt one of his front paws and called the best vet hospital in town for assistance. The fine folks at Blue Pearl Veterinary Services do some pretty amazing things, including working with a wildlife rehab organization that was delighted to help our little swimmer recoup from his big adventure.

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Story Behind the Photo: Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel with Peanut, Safety Harbor, FL

As an avid bird watcher, my back yard is filled with bird feeders. There are all kinds of visitors including several Northern Cardinal families, a pair of Tufted Titmice, many Blue Jays and a couple of Mourning Doves. In addition to all of these feathered visitors are the squirrels that seem to spend their days plotting and scheming to steal all of the specially selected birdseed right out of those feeders.

Rather than fighting a loosing battle, I decided that if I fed the squirrels something they liked better than my birdseed, perhaps they’d leave the feeders alone. This plan appears to be working, thus my weekly visit to the local pet food store for “squirrel food” that goes in a special feeder just for them on the fence. To be honest, watching all of the neighborhood squirrels fight over who gets the last peanut of the day is more entertaining than you might think, and I’ve grown attached to those furry little thieves.

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Story Behind the Photo: Bobcat

Bobcat, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa Springs, FL

Like many photographers, I have a trip to Africa to photograph the amazing animals found there on my bucket list. The chance to see lions, leopards, zebras and elephants in their natural environment would really be the trip of a lifetime. There are still many exciting and beautiful places in the US that have on my list to visit, so my dream trip to Africa will have to wait a few years! In the meantime, I do have the bug to see some animals a little bigger than Peter Cottontail that lives in the neighbor’s front yard.

One option is the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park which offers opportunities to see animals and birds native to Florida like this bobcat. A truly wonderful opportunity to see endangered native species up close, this park is on the top of my list for a weekend in the near future!

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Story Behind the Photo: Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Safety Harbor, FL

With Easter Sunday just around the corner, it seemed fitting to share a photo of a bunny today. The Eastern Cottontail is one of the most common rabbits in North America, and this one lives in my next-door neighbor’s front yard amidst their lush landscaping. Known as “Peter Cottontail” around our house, we see him often around dusk venturing out for some dinner.

Rabbits have long been a symbol of fertility and abundance due to thier ability to breed large litters often, especially in early spring. In ancient times, rabbits were the favorite animal of the Germanic goddess of spring, Eastre, symbolizing renewal and fertility in the spring. The exact history is a little vague, but the tradition of a rabbit delivering brightly colored eggs to children on Easter Sunday is thought to have began in Germany in the 1500’s. The tradition was introduced in the United States in the 1800’s by German settlers in Pennsylvania Dutch country. As the tradition spread across the country, the modern day Easter Bunny was born.

I hope you each have a wonderful weekend and a very happy Easter!

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Story Behind the Photo: River Otter

River Otter, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa Springs, FL

River Otters are quite possibly some of the most entertaining animals to watch. On a recent visit to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, I thoroughly enjoyed watching a pair of otters swim laps in their habitat. Perfectly equipped for aquatic life, river otters have dense water-repellent fur and a streamlined build allowing them to reach roughly 5 mph when swimming. Back and forth, criss crossing each other’s paths, the otters seemed to really be enjoying themselves, and showed us all a thing or two about how to quickly do a flip turn. While this pair was enjoying the freshwater springs from the Homosassa River, river otters can live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. As long as there is an abundant food supply and easy access to water nearby, they seem adapt well to an array of aquatic environments.

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Story Behind the Photo: Striped Hermit Crab

Striped Hermit Crab in a Crown Conch, Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, FL

Striped hermit crabs are one of the more common hermit crabs seen along the beaches of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in the Southeast. Most often I’ve run in to them when I thought I’d found a perfect shell to add to my collection, only to find it was already occupied. While they are aquatic crabs, striped hermit crabs are quite hardy and can survive on shore for several days.  Just like their distant cousins the shrimp and lobster, these crustaceans have ten legs. Only their first three pairs of legs extend their shells, while the other two pairs have the important job inside of holding on to the shell. This striped hermit crab was residing in a crown conch shell when it was photographed at Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin, FL.

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