It is time to get outside and look for reptiles and amphibians!
Hopefully, everyone has been out to enjoy the couple days that we have had of warmth and sunshine. Now it is time to expect those April showers to bring on the May flowers. However, before the May flowers, the reptiles and amphibians are awakening now in April!
Figure 1 Spotted Salamander Ambystoma maculatum found at Finzel Swamp (Left) and a Grey Tree Frog sp. Hyla versicolor/chrysoscelis in nearby Horseshoe, WV.
As the warm rains soak the ground and fill vernal pools (spring only pools), many amphibians will migrate in masses and begin breeding. You may see little frogs and salamanders all over the roads after a rain in the evening. Also, little ditches, pools, ponds, wetlands, and other wet places will have loads of amphibian activity as well, such as Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs calling! Spring Peepers give that familiar “peeep” sound we hear throughout spring, but the wood frogs are usually only heard early spring. Wood Frogs sound almost like ducks quacking when they are calling.
Figure 2 Spring Peeper Pseudacris crucifer in an old beaver pond near Herrington Manor State Park (left) and Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) found in a ditch along Foster Rd
The state of Maryland is on its final year of surveys for an extensive project of cataloging all the reptiles and amphibians in each county in the state (Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas or MARA). Seth Metheny and I will be conducting a training session on April 12th at the CAOS building of Garrett College at 6pm. We will train people how to identify local herps, how to find and ethically photograph or handle, and how to log your findings with the atlas. If weather permits, we may go out and do some “herping”, so if you would like to come along, wear proper clothing and bring a headlamp or flashlight!
You may contact us via our Facebook page for the Garrett County Herp Atlas for more information. You may also submit your findings via the Facebook page.
So get your raincoats and rubber boots and find some herps! At least take a evening drive and enjoy the evening chorus of Garrett County’s frogs!
Garrett College, CAOS building