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FAQ: Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas

Spring peeper © Joe Crowley

I see the same animal in the same location every day. Do you want me to submit a sighting every time that I see it?

No. If you are reasonably certain that you are seeing the same animal, you only need to report it once per year. If there are particular locations that you plan to revisit regularly, consider waiting two to four weeks between visits. Alternatively, you could participate in one of the backyard monitoring programs to monitor species in the same location throughout the year.

Do the reptiles and amphibians that I see have to be alive?

No. Road-killed animals tell us important information about where animals are found and how different species are impacted by roads. We share our road-kill data with the Ontario Road Ecology Group so that it can contribute to their research.

What if I find an old, empty turtle shell or a snake skin?

Old body parts should be reported. Take lots of photos of the top, bottom and face (if a snake skin). This will help experts identify the species. Remember that the Endangered Species Act prohibits the keeping of any dead endangered or threatened species, including body parts such as a turtle shell.

I counted eight of the same species in one small area. Should that be reported as eight sightings?

No. If you see many of the same species in one general location they should be submitted as one record. You will have the option to indicate the number of individuals sighted in your submission. The exception to this rule is with species at risk, whose exact coordinates is very important and should be counted as individual records.

At my neighbourhood pond, I heard three green frogs and one bullfrog, and I saw a snapping turtle. Can I submit this as one observation?

No. You should report instances of multiple species seen at the same time and at the same location as individual submissions. In the example above, you would submit three reports using the app, online form or fill in three rows in the excel spreadsheet (i.e., one for each species). The general rule is one submission per species per location per date. The app will help you submit many species at the same area in the same entry.

I have observations from a previous year. Should I still submit it?

Yes. If your data hasn’t already been submitted to the NHIC, Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary Atlas, or the Toronto Zoo, we strongly encourage you to report it.

Are there any resources available for volunteers?

Yes. Our website includes detailed species accounts that provide information about the ecology and biology of each species, identification characteristics, and range maps.

Through our network of volunteer atlas area coordinators, we may be able to provide presentations and training workshops for groups that are interested in participating in the atlas. Presentations give an overview of local species, tips and techniques to do surveys, and general information about the atlas. Please email us to find out more about these opportunities. 

Is Ontario Nature the only organization that uses the data collected from these projects?

We share data with many different organizations and groups. If you are interested in learning more about our partners and whether your project contributes to the Atlas, email us at atlas@ontarionature.org.

What are some tips to steward reptiles and amphibians?

There are several easy ways for everyone to get involved in reptile and amphibian conservation.

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