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Time to start watching for turtles and snakes emerging for spring

submitted content,
April 11 2016

Turtles, frogs, salamanders and snakes could start emerging this week in Muskoka thanks to the warmer weather on its way. According to Ontario Nature, here are details of what reptiles and amphibians Muskokans may spot, and how they can protect them in the coming days.
A few reptiles and amphibians have already been spotted in Muskoka this spring. But with the warmer weather, this week could rouse scores more.

On a leisurely shoreline stroll you may spot a Blanding’s turtle or a smooth greensnake. 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 favorite 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 Coordinator.

Sadly though, reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 percent respectively. In Ontario, 75 percent of reptiles and 22 percent 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.

Become a citizen scientist
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. Ontario Nature’s spring is to fill in key data gaps where there are no recent sightings. While you’re enjoying the nicer weather, 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.

Background Information from Ontario Nature


Reptiles are experiencing global declines of 20 percent
24 species of reptiles are found in Ontario:

15 snakes
8 turtles
1 lizard
18 of Ontario’s 24 species of reptile (75 percent) are listed as at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act


Amphibians are experiencing global declines of 40 percent
23 species of amphibians are found in Ontario:
10 frogs
2 toads
11 salamanders
5 of Ontario’s 23 species of amphibian (22 percent) are listed as at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act

Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas

The atlas is a citizen-science program that tracks distributions and spatial trends of reptiles and amphibians across the province over time. The overarching goal is to increase the collective knowledge base of reptiles and amphibians. Equally important, however, is the engagement of non-scientists of all ages and abilities, in all parts of the province, in nature study and conservation.

In 2015, citizen scientists reported more than 29,000 sightings from across Ontario
More than 350,000 submissions have been reported by more than 3,000 people
Ontario Nature’s Lost Bay Nature Reserve hosts 24 species of reptiles and amphibians
The atlas was launched in 1984 and has been led by Ontario Nature since 2009

Least reported species: Allegheny Mountain dusky salamander (11)
Most reported species: spring peeper (65,052)