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Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibian-Long-toed Salamander

 "Amphibians seem to be disappearing from the landscape for many known, unknown reasons. So, if you encounter an amphibian or reptile while wildlife watching on the Refuge, please email Refuge staff describing what, where, and when."

Amphibian-Columbian Spotted FrogAt least eight species of reptiles and amphibians commonly use the refuge including three snakes, one turtle, two frogs, one toad, and one salamander (species list here). 

One valuable habitat for these animals is riparian habitat. The Bitterroot River is characterized by constantly shifting stream channels through the riparian habitat. This habitat provides some of the most productive wildlife habitat in the State and is a home to a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians (Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Plan-MFWP 2005). Throughout the riparian woodlands are various wetland types including ephemeral pools, sloughs, and remnants of former gravel pits which provide breeding grounds for amphibians such as the long-toed salamander and the boreal toad, a State species of concern. In response to this Boreal Toad listing, the Refuge plans on enacting the following: 

Gravel Pits Objective

Amphibian-Boreal Toad TadpoleUse the gravel pits—created when gravel is harvested east of the Bitterroot River—to provide nursery habitat for amphibians such as the boreal toad, a State species of concern, and the Columbia spotted frog.


  • Remove vegetation and soil from the artificial gravel pits to restore the desired habitat conditions for native amphibians, as appropriate. If necessary, harvest gravel October through March, avoiding disturbance and displacement of any amphibians during breeding season. 
  • Manage these old gravel pits as ephemeral pools to discourage the American bullfrog, an invasive predator of amphibians and other desirable native species. 
  • Survey amphibian populations and monitor the response of amphibians to determine the success of management techniques. Adapt management techniques to ensure the refuge is using the most effective methods, research, and proven technologies. 

National Overview-Amphibian Deformity and Abnormality

Reptile-Painted Turtle 256 x 192The USFWS recently published a 10 year study of amphibian abnormality on Refuges. "Less than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled on 152 refuges had physical abnormalities involving the skeleton and eyes - a lower rate than many experts feared based on earlier reports. This indicates that the severe malformations such as missing or extra limbs reported in the media during the mid-1990s were actually very rare on national wildlife refuges."


Last Updated: Feb 19, 2014
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