When people think of animals of the Adirondacks, it’s often bears and moose that come to mind. But in the forests, streams, ponds and lakes, you can find a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians sharing our mountainous home. You might be surprised to learn that there are 35 species of amphibians and reptiles residing in the Adirondacks – most being completely harmless. As a matter of fact, they help to keep the mosquito and black fly population at bay by feeding on the larvae – and that’s good news for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors during the warmer months! Keep reading to learn more about the hopping, crawling and yes – slithering – inhabitants that share our beautiful area.
Topping the list of amphibians are salamanders. In all, there are 10 species living in the Adirondacks – in a variety of habitats. Taking a hike through the forest? That’s where you’d be likely to find mole salamanders, as they prefer to live among logs and leaf litter. Be on the lookout here for the blue-spotted salamander – they’re actually quite pretty, with dark-blue skin flecked with more vibrant blue and white spots.
You may also find a red-spotted newt or two in the forest, especially if it’s close to a pond or muddy bog. Additionally, the Adirondacks is home to a number of lungless salamanders, which interestingly lack lungs, as their name suggests, and breathe through their skin and mouth tissue. Rounding up the local salamanders is the mudpuppy, which lives the life aquatic. Like fish, they have gills in order to breathe, and can be found in lakes, rivers and ponds.
Frogs and toads are also common amphibians enjoying life in the Adirondack Mountains, and they are everywhere! You can find spring peepers and gray tree frogs living in the trees in the forests, and bullfrogs, mink frogs, green frogs enjoy bodies of water, swamps and marshes. Pickerel frogs like living in areas that are damp and heavily wooded, and leopard frogs, while preferring marshy areas, can be found virtually anywhere. If you see a toad in the Adirondacks, chances are it will be an American toad. These toads can be found all over the Adirondacks – probably even at your home!
Reptiles living in the Adirondacks include turtles, lizards and snakes. Snapping turtles are very common, living in ponds and marshy spots throughout the area. They can be combative and have powerful jaws, so it’s best to steer clear of them – they have a powerful enough bite to remove fingers! There are several less-dangerous turtles living in the area, though. Pond and box turtles can easily be found throughout the area, living mostly in aquatic and marshy areas of the Adirondacks.
Only one type of lizard can be found in the area – the five-lined skink. Small and sleek, skinks live in the forest, preferring damp wooded areas. They can also be found in rocky areas, and sometimes in trees where they go to sunbathe. Numerous typical snakes are also found in the Adirondacks, like the grass snake, milk snake and garter snake. However, there is one snake classified as a viper – or venomous snake – living in the area – the timber rattlesnake. This snake is considered dangerous because it is a larger snake, has long fangs, and yields a high amount of venom. The good news? If you see a rattlesnake, you’ll likely have plenty of time to get away, because they have a mild temperament and spend long periods in dormancy.
If you’d like to learn more about the amphibians and reptiles of the Adirondacks, visit the Adirondack Ecological Center website. You can also find a wealth of information on the flora and fauna of the area at Charlie Johns, in our large “bookstore within the store” area. We offer maps, books, field guides and more that will help you discover the beautiful, natural world around us here in Speculator.