The Best Locations For Reptile Photography

When it comes to wildlife photography, one of the most challenging aspects of this niche is finding the animals you want to capture with your camera.

Research is a huge part of wildlife photography and it’s the first step photographers take towards capturing some truly stunning photographs. 

The Best Locations For Reptile Photography

It’s hard enough tracking down bears and following bird migration patterns for other wildlife photography niches, but what about reptiles?

Reptiles like lizards and snakes are almost silent and easy to miss – so where can you find the reptiles you need for your reptile photography? 

Here is our list of the best locations for reptile photography. These are based on the population numbers of reptiles in each location, meaning that it’s likely that you will find plenty of wild reptiles to photograph

So, check out the list below! 

The Best Zoos For Reptile Photography

Wildlife photography can be very difficult and risky to do. You need to do a ton of research to find your animal subjects and get the right gear and keep a safe distance away from your animal subjects.

Not everyone likes wandering around in the wilderness for hours – and so, a lot of photographers opt for the much more accessible alternative. 

Zoos are home to plenty of captive animals and photographers can easily head to their nearest zoo to take plenty of amazing photographs of the animal subjects there.

All you need to do is plan ahead, grab your camera, and be prepared to pay an admission fee. 

So, if you want to find your reptile subjects as quickly and as easily as possible, a zoo close to you may be a great option.

If you don’t mind traveling to certain zoos or reptile sanctuaries with plenty of captive reptiles, then here is a list of the best zoos known for their reptile inhabitants.  

1. Reptile Gardens, Rapid City

This reptile zoo is one of the largest in the US. In fact, it made the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest reptile zoo – so you can find a huge range of different species and subspecies of exotic reptiles here! 

This includes venomous snakes like the cottonmouth and copperhead, non-venomous snakes like pythons and boas, and other reptiles including crocodiles, alligators, giant tortoises, and various lizards. 

2. San Diego Zoo, San Diego

San Diego Zoo is known for its huge range of inhabitants – and it’s no different when it comes to reptiles (see also “Reptile Photography Techniques For Beginners“). The San Diego Zoo’s Reptile House can be found in their Discovery Outpost area and there, you can find plenty of snakes, turtles, and lizards. 

There’s also an outdoor reptile exhibit known as Reptile Walk. There, you can find 50 species of various crocodilians, turtles, and other amphibians.

This means that you can photograph reptiles in exposed enclosures as well as through the glass-enclosed enclosures you find in most zoos. 

3. Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth

Fort Worth Zoo is known for having one of the best reptile houses in the US. Here you can find one of the largest reptile collections in the entire country and also some of the rarest.

This is because Fort Worth Zoo is involved in numerous conservation programs for endangered lizards including the Jamaican iguana, Komodo dragons, and gharial crocodiles. 

Overall, you can find plenty of reptiles here including rare and exotic species that would be difficult to photograph in the wild. 

Best Locations For Wild Reptile Photography

While photographing reptiles in captivity is much easier than capturing them in the wild, there’s just one snag – your photographs won’t count as wildlife photography. 

Wildlife photography specifically captures animals in the wild and so, if you want to capture reptile subjects for wildlife photography competitions, you specifically need to head out and find them in the wild. 

So, if you want authentic wild reptile photography, here are some of the best locations for you to travel to. 

1. Everglades National Park, Florida 

One of the most impressive groups of reptiles are the crocodilians and for Americans, Florida is the go-to destination to see crocodiles and alligators in the wild. 

The Everglades National Park is home to 50 distinctive species of reptiles including the well-known American alligator and crocodile.

You can also find plenty of lizards and snakes like the cottonmouth, green anole, Florida kingsnake, Indo-Pacific gecko, and more. There are also turtles, terrapins, and turtles too. 

2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 

The Galapagos Islands are home to one of the most iconic species of reptile in the world – the Galapagos Tortoise.

This giant species of tortoise is only found in the wild on these remote islands of Ecuador and Peru so you will have to travel far to capture their image yourself. 

3. Kakadu National Park, Australia

Kakadu National Park is known for a wide variety of attractions ranging from rare bird watching to impressive rock art – but it’s also home to over 10,000 crocodiles!

As a result, the park offers a range of vantage points, platforms, and cruises where you can safely view wild crocodiles. 

On top of that, you can also find other reptiles like the frilled-neck lizard, the jacky dragon, and plenty of snakes including the King Brown snake. In total, there are around 117 species of reptiles in this National Park alone. 

4. Andasibe Mantadia National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar may be best known for its lemurs but it’s also home to plenty of reptiles for you to photograph. This rainforest reserve is home to reptiles like chameleons, geckos, and tree boa snakes, as well as plenty of amphibians like tree frogs.  

They may be difficult to find (the leaf-tailed gecko in particular blends in with the rainforest amazingly well) but others like the panther chameleon are known for their bright psychedelic colors. 

General Locations For Wild Reptiles 

If you can’t afford to head all the way to Australia or Ecuador for some wildlife reptile photography, then there are certain areas in the US known for their higher population densities of reptiles.

There’s no guarantee that you will find your reptiles, but these places are great realistic places to search for wild reptiles for your photography. 

1. Saguaro National Park, Arizona 

Arizona has around 107 different reptile species within its borders and most of these can be found in the south. This is because Southern Arizona is known for its desert and arid areas and as a result, it’s the perfect habitat for various lizards and snakes. 

Here, you can find reptiles including rattlesnakes, whiptails, horned lizards, and many more. A good place to start is at the Saguaro National Park, not far from the city of Tucson. 

2. The Pine Barrens, New Jersey

The Pinelands of New Jersey are home to around 20 species of snake including the pine snake, rough green snake, common kingsnake, and common watersnake.

This makes it an ideal location for snake photography as there are plenty of non-venomous (and one venomous) species of snake for you to discover. 

You can also find other reptiles like the fence lizard and Eastern box turtle here – but most photographers head to the Pine Barrens for some amazing wild snake photography (see also “How To Photograph Snakes“)! 

3. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas

Kansas is also home to plenty of snakes, although perhaps not as many as the likes of the Pine Barrens or Saguaro National Park.

Despite this, it’s a great place to visit if you want to photograph lizards and skinks like the slender glass lizard, Eastern collared lizard, and the great plains skink.

There are also turtles like the painted turtle and the spiny softshell turtle – so there’s no shortage of reptiles for you to photograph in Kansas! 

4. Franklin Mountains State Park, Texas

The Franklin Mountains State Park near El Paso, Texas, is a great destination for hiking, rock climbing – and reptile spotting. As a result, it’s a great location for reptile photography as this park in West Texas is covered with various species of reptiles. 

In total, there are 33 confirmed species of reptiles at Franklin Mountains State Park.

Some species of reptiles you can expect to find (and photograph) at the Franklins Mountains State Park include the brown anole, the eastern collared lizard, the ornate tree lizard, the Texas night snake, the Striped Whiptail, and so many more. 

From snakes to lizards to turtles, there are definitely plenty of reptiles to photograph at this park! 

Final Thoughts

Reptiles can be found all over the world but knowing exactly where to find them can make the difference between a successful photography session and failure.

Luckily, there are lots of different places you can travel to try and find different snakes, lizards, turtles, and more. 

From Australia to Florida, Arizona to Madagascar, we have included some of the best locations for reptile photography in the list above.

You can either choose your closest location or the location with the kind of reptiles you want to photograph or choose between wildlife reptile photography or photographing captive reptiles at your local zoo.

Grab your camera (and your passport if necessary) and get going! Good luck! 

Laura McNeill
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