Amphibians & Reptiles

Amphibians and reptiles thrive in the damp conditions of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Garter Snake

    The most common species of snake found on the Refuge is the Garter Snake. Several species are common in the region, some with yellow stripes, some with red stripes. Garter snakes winter in large groups called hibernacula, and it is common to see large tangles of snakes as they emerge in the spring. When threatened or handled, they emit a bad smelling secretion through their skin which you do not want to rub in your eyes. They mostly eat small invertebrates, such as worms, but larger Garter snakes will each amphibians such as frogs and the deadly Rough-skinned Newt.

  • Rough-skinned Newt

    The Rough-skinned Newt is known for its extremely poisonous skin, potent enough in a single newt to kill 12 human adults. The only organism that can ingest the Rough-skinned Newt and survive is the Garter Snake (see above), an example of co-evolution: as resistant populations of snakes survive and feed, those newts with a more potent toxicity are favored, in turn allowing only the most resistant snakes to survive, at which point, again, only those newts which are even more toxic are favored, and so on. This predator/prey process is sometimes described as an "evolutionary arms race" which has resulted in the newt developing a toxicity far in excess of what it would need to kill any other predator.

  • Pacific Tree Frog

    Pacific Tree Frogs range in color from green to brown to gray, but are readily identified by a white-bordered dark streak running through each eye. Like most tree frogs, Pacific Tree Frogs have sticky finger pads that allow them to grip onto the tree. Their call sounds something like "wreck-it."  Adults are about 4 cm long.  These are the most common frog on the west coast; populations are abundant and they have no concern or conservation status.

  • Northern Red-legged Frog

    Adults are up to 10 cm in length. Upper surface and sides are usually reddish brown, with a few dark spots or blotches, while underside of belly and inner legs are a pinkish red. Lives in or near marshes, streams and ponds, and is usually voiceless. They feed on insects, worms, snails, crustaceans, tadpoles, small fish and even small frogs of other species.