Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Amphibians and Reptiles around Woodcraft

The last post discussed the plethora of mammals a camper may encounter during a summer exploring Woodcraft and the rest of the Adirondacks. Of course, however, The Park is full of wildlife from all the   phyla of the animal kingdom. Woodcraft, as well as the lakes, rivers, and trails we travel, are all great places to encounter reptiles and amphibians native to the Adirondacks.

Common garter snakes (thamnophis sirtalis) are regularly found around camp. They are harmless and provide a lot of excitement for young campers who may get to observe one in the nature hut. Garter snakes give ovoviviparously (the embryos develop within fertilized eggs that are retained within the mother's body until hatching) followed by the babies emerging from the mother's body. This is not the case with many snake species, which tend to lay eggs. Garters often give birth in July and August so it is not uncommon for campers to see a pregnant snake and many baby snakes shortly thereafter.

Some future biologists hold baby garter snakes.
Turtles are also quite common around these parts. One species a camper might find is the painted turtle (chrysemys picta). The painted turtle is so named because of the bright red markings found on its skin. One of the most commonly found turtles on the continent, the painted turtle can live for over 50 years.

A small painted turtle.
If you're looking closely in the right spots, you might also catch a glimpse of red-spotted newt (notophthalmus viridescens) of the family salamandridae. Last summer the Auroras were able to snap some pictures of one on a trip to Terrell Pond along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail.

Red-spotted newt makes his or her way across the rocks.
Frogs can be seen (and heard) all around the lakes. While they can be a bit noisy at times, they help to keep the bug population down. Woodcraft's annual 4th of July frog jumping contest pits the divisions against each other in some friendly competition. A regular entrant into the competition is the leopard frog (rana pipiens).

The leopard frog is identifiable by the spots that resemble its namesake.
The reptiles and amphibians of Woodcraft and the rest of the Adirondacks provide a fun and exciting way for campers to have hands-on interactions with the wildlife. A little bit of quiet time spent by a lake or stream will usually yield some interesting sightings.

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