Reptiles are a significant component of the native biodiversity in virtually every natural terrestrial and freshwater habitat in the southeastern United States. Despite being often overlooked, reptiles are vital components of southeastern ecosystems. They can serve important roles as both predators and prey, forming critical trophic links in many ecosystems, and can serve as indicators of environmental integrity. Comprehensive accounts of regional species composition and richness are fundamental to initiating meaningful monitoring or research programs applicable to conservation issues.
Up to 60 species of reptiles could possibly occur on the Outer Banks. According to recent investigations of reptile occurrences on the Outer Banks (Tuberville et al. 2005, Gaul and Mitchell 2007), 59 species of reptiles have been documented in Dare County, North Carolina, since 1588. Of these, 32 species of reptiles have been documented at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (highlighted):
Gaul, R.W. and J.C. Mitchell. 2007. The herpetofauna of Dare County, North Carolina: History, natural history, and biogeography. Journal of the North CarolinaAcademyof Science. 123(2): 65-109.
Tuberville, T.D., J.D. Willson, M.E. Dorcas, and J.W. Gibbons. 2005. Herpetofaunal species richness of Southeastern National Parks. Southeastern Naturalist. 4(3): 537-569.
Did You Know?
This is not a space alien, even though it has a transparent body, wings, and a very large eye. Giant water fleas grow up to 2 cm long, and are a food source for small fish that shelter in the sound. You can swim with them in the sound-side waters off Cape Hatteras National Seashore.