American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are native to Georgia and are a common sight in many rivers, freshwater lakes, and ponds of the southern and coastal regions of the state. Georgia also claims twenty-seven species of turtles Alligator Snapping Turtle (including five species of sea turtle) that live in a variety of habitats. Many are aquatic species found in rivers or lakes, although some, such as the chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia), persist in small, isolated wetlands that may dry up during the summer. The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), the largest freshwater turtle in North America, is found in rivers in the southwestern part of the state. The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) commonly nests on Georgia beaches, including Cumberland Island. The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), a common resident in sandy areas of southern Georgia, is an important terrestrial species because its deep, underground burrows serve as refuges for many other animal species as well. (The gopher tortoise also happens to be the state reptile of Georgia.) Like Ground Skink other eastern states, Georgia has only a few species of lizards, six of which are skinks. Some skinks are readily recognizable by the bright blue tails on the juveniles and the large red heads of the adult males in the springtime. Four Georgia species, the so-called glass lizards (Ophisaurus), are highly unusual in being legless. They can be distinguished from snakes because they have eyelids and ear openings. The Florida worm lizard (Rhineura floridana), which Green Anole belongs to a lizardlike reptile group known as amphisbaenians, has recently been discovered in southern Georgia. This small species, which resembles an earthworm, lives permanently underground in sandy regions. Two species of nonnative lizards, the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) from the Caribbean and the Old World Mediterranean gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus), have established breeding populations in Georgia. Like the greenhouse frog, they are becoming common in some coastal areas of the state. Georgia Eastern Coral Snake has a rich biodiversity of snakes, with forty-one native species now documented. Most species are harmless, but five (three rattlesnakes, the copperhead, and the cottonmouth), belong to the pit viper family (Crotalidae) and are poisonous. Scarlet KingsnakeThe rare coral snake, also poisonous, belongs to the cobra family (Elapidae). The largest U.S. snake, the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), is native to southern Georgia. Georgia snakes include some strikingly beautiful species, such as the mud (Farancia abacura) and rainbow (Farancia erytrogramma) snakes that are shiny black above with bright reds or yellow below, and the scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) encircled with yellow, red, and black rings. Many of Georgia's snakes, such as the eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus), ringneck snake (Diadophus punctatus), and southeastern crowned snake (Tantilla coronata), are so small and inoffensive that people seldom see them.