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The secretive world of reptiles and amphibians comes to life

North Bay Nugget,
April 23 2016

A few reptiles and amphibians have already been spotted in North Bay this spring. But with the warmer weather, this week will rouse scores more.

On a leisurely shoreline stroll you may spot a midland painted turtle or a Blanding’s turtle. If you turn over a log, you may find a red-spotted newt or a spotted salamander.

The onset of spring is an exciting time of year for outdoor enthusiasts as the veil of winter’s slumber is lifted from our wetlands, forests and meadows. The awakening of reptiles and amphibians is happening right at our feet.

“Spring is one of my favourite times of year and is distinctively marked by the unique calls of different species of frogs and toads. The early season calls of wood and chorus frogs, as well as spring peepers bring the night alive with sound,” says Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s citizen science co-ordinator.

Sadly though, reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 per cent respectively.

In Ontario, 75 per cent of reptiles and 22 per cent of amphibians are listed as at-risk provincially. These turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads have unique, specialized and fascinating life histories. But they suffer terribly from habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, persecution and pollution.

You can help by enlisting as a citizen scientist for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, which has been led by Ontario Nature since 2009. The data submitted by people of all skill levels is used to map the whereabouts of some of the province’s most enigmatic creatures.

While you’re enjoying the nice weather this week, keep an eye out for reptiles and amphibians. They have fascinating traits and adaptations, and you can help their plight simply by reporting your sightings.

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario.

For more information, visit ontarionature.org.