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Wetland Biology

Biological Inventories

Amphibians and Reptiles

Ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, and wetlands of all kinds lend themselves to a unique interaction of a group of animals called amphibians. These remarkable animals live in close association with wetlands. Some require open water in great abundance while others are able to live out their lives in moist soil or slippery mud. These animals of which frogs are members, have the unique ability to live in and out of the water for extended periods of time. Some spend most of their adult lives as upland animals returning to the ponds where they began their lives only to reproduce the next generation. Others will do just the opposite; live their adult lives in an aquatic environment, leaving the security of the wetland to travel into the uplands to complete their reproductive cycle. At certain times of the year, a wetland can be a flurry of activity when animals of the surrounding hills, avian migratory corridors, and the home ranges of the year-round wetland residents compete for resources that supply them with food, shelter, and reproductive territory.

Reptiles often associate themselves with wetlands to take advantage of the opportunities for feeding on the many different types of eggs available. Some reside entirely in wetland habitats, but most are adaptive to a wide variety of habitat types. As such, they are able to move freely from one habitat type to another when the resources in one location become depleted, or if the preferred habitat is within easy travel distance.

The following list is intended to generate some ideas for you to pursue in terms of discovering the fascinating realm of the amphibians and reptiles in wetland habitats. There are web sites that will allow you to further explore the lifestyles of individual species in depth. Others will provide you with nationwide and worldwide distributions of your favorite frog or snake. Search the web for endangered species, those that are on lists of national concern, and whose distributions have become locally extirpated. Remember; all things in nature are connected. What happens to one organism has an effect on all others.

Chrysemys picta, Painted turtle

Please go to the Activity Page to learn about Chrysemys picta

Chelydra serpentina, Snapping turtle

Size: 8-18 inches in length. They are dark brown to black in color. Their upper carapace is often encrusted with mud and algae. Unlike the painted turtle, this species cannot fully retract itself into its shell. It's only means of defense against predation is to become aggressive with extremely sharp claws and a strong forceful bite. The snapper eats a variety of foods including small mammals, birds, vegetation, fish, and clams.

Thamnophis sirtalis, Red-sided garter snake

Length 17-52 inches. This sleek snake is a live bearing species that mates in April and gives birth to its' young in July and August. It's preferred habitat is in or near wetlands. It preferres to dine on frogs, toads, worms, and salamanders.

Heterodon nasicus, Western hognose snake

Length 15-35 inches. This is a stocky brown/black and tan snake with a broad head and an upturned nose. It feeds on minnows, tadpoles, frogs, small rodents and birds.

Rana clamitans, Green Frog

Two to 4 inches, bronze to green in color with a white tummy breeding occurs from March to August. Small clusters of eggs are deposited on the sturdy portions of submerged vegetation in calm water.

Rana pipiens, Northern leopard frog

Two to 4½ inches in length, brown or green with tan spots rimmed with brown. Breeding occurs from March to June with egg masses deposited on submerged vegetation or on the soft muddy bottom of a shallow pond or pool.

Please consult the list of reference sites for additional information.