Finding reptiles and amphibians at home

In these days of stay-at-home orders you can still make a big contribution to helping us get data in Columbia County. Many species of reptiles and amphibians are found right around the home if you know where to look. Here are a few little tricks for searching them out.

Objects around the home

The first place to look is underneath things. Not just anything - the best objects tend to be those that have been lying around undisturbed. Carefully lift up the object by the corner (so you don't crush whatever might be living there) and see what's underneath!

Amphibians need moisture, they tend to be found under logs, woodpiles, rocks, and other large objects that keep a nice seal so the soil below them has remained moist. I found this Oregon Ensatina under an old mat that sat in the shade next to a decorative log.


Julia and Kevin found several Long-toed Salamanders by flipping objects around the garden next to the house.


Reptiles on the other hand like warmth, so they tend to be found under boards, tins, and tarps that are exposed to a little bit of sunlight. This young Northern Alligator Lizard was under the tarp protecting some young seedlings.


And this fencing on the side of a horse field had lots of Northwestern Garter Snakes underneath.




Water sources

The next place to look is wherever there is water. The water source doesn't have to be big. This Northern Red-legged Frog was sitting next to a decorative pond.

Sometimes it's easiest to find frogs by tracking them down while they call at night. These Northern Pacific Treefrogs were calling from a flooded part of the yard after a rain.


The larger the water source, the more variety is possible. A canal next to my sister's field has American Bullfrogs and Western Painted Turtles. You often have to sneak up very slowly in order to spot the animals before they disappear under the water.




That same canal also produces Rough-skinned Newts, as little Kevin found out.


The woods

Those who are lucky enough to have wooded areas on their property have a variety more creatures to find. One of the best places to look is under logs. However, you must be very careful not to break off any bark or break apart any logs, as that destroys their habitat. Only those logs or pieces that can be moved carefully without damage and then placed right back in the same place should be touched.

This Oregon Ensatina was hiding in the loose wood of an old stump in the woods next to my sister's house.



And water bodies in the woods are great spots to look. The rocks under this tiny little stream often hold Dunn's Salamanders.


I hope that gives you a good idea of the possibilities right around your own home. Home data is vital to us as it helps us get a picture of the spread of herps across the whole country, not just on the hiking trails. Upload a picture of a frog or snake around your home and help us learn more about Columbia County's native animals.

Thanks for taking a look!

Posted by jonhakim jonhakim, April 06, 2020 06:02

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