Amphibians, Reptiles and Other Wildlife


The northern leopard frog, found here on the Refuge, is the most cold-adapted of all the leopard frog species!

Arapaho NWR hosts many more types of wildlife other than birds and mammals. The sagebrush steppe, meadow, riparian and wetland habitats support a wide array of insects like dragonflies, damselflies, caddis flies, mayflies, scuds, riffle beetle, aquatic worms, butterflies, and moths.

Many of these insects are important prey for several species of fish that inhabit the Illinois River. Arapaho’s southern portion of the river begins as a trout stream, but progresses to a stream with only native species in it by the time it reaches the northern portion of the Refuge. This fishery transition is the result of low flow in the northern downstream section of the river because a split occurs in the main stream channel. Brown, brook and rainbow trout live where there is sufficient flow upstream and the native species including: northern redbelly dace, flathead minnow, creek chub, long-nosed sucker, white sucker and Johnny darter are able to thrive along the entire river. The creeks and wetlands provide limited fishery habitat to a few of the native species.

Because the elevation is too high, there are no poisonous snakes in North Park. The wandering garter snake is the only reptile known to inhabit the Refuge. Sightings are rare, and tend to occur in damp environments near water because this snake feeds on slugs, leeches, fish, frogs, salamanders and much more. 

Even in this high mountain, semi-arid basin, amphibians can be seen or heard on the Refuge. The most abundant amphibian on the Refuge is the striped chorus frog which can be found in wetlands, meadows and riparian habitats. You can hear their noisy, “prreep, prreep”, night and day during the height of their breeding season! The northern leopard frog population has been declining in this area so you can feel happy when one catches your eye as it jumps, zig- zagging to the safety of water, in both the riparian and the irrigated ditches of the meadow habitats. The barred tiger salamander is primarily associated with the wetlands, but may be seen in all habitats. Adults spend much time underground in the burrows of other animals emerging only for brief periods to breed. Less common are the wood frog and western toad.