Reptiles & Amphibians

Snapping turtle - Gary Stolz/USFWS.

A variety of reptiles and amphibians live in the creek, marsh, and pond habitats at Heinz Refuge, where they find ample fish, insects, and invertebrates for food. While no formal inventories have been conducted, there are three snake, ten turtle, and eight frog and toad species known to inhabit the refuge. 

The northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon), eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), and northern brown snake (Storeria dekayi dekayi) are all found at the refuge. These common species are generally associated with forested habitats or nearby open water. 

Numerous turtles are known to use the open water habitats of the impoundment, freshwater tidal marsh, and Darby Creek. Species common to these habitats at the refuge include common musk turtle (Sternothaerus odoratus), eastern box turtle (Terrapene c. carolina), painted turtle (Chrysemys picta x marginata), snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), common map turtle (Graptemys geographica), eastern spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) and the nonnative, invasive red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). The refuge also supports several rare species of turtle such as the state endangered eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum), the northern diamond-backed terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), and a significant population of the state threatened eastern redbelly turtle. Redbelly turtles are associated with the freshwater tidal marsh and open waters of Darby Creek. However, some of these have been known to move to and from the 145-acre impoundment and refuge ponds as well. 

Common frog and toad species such as bull frog (Lithobates cates-bianus), green frog (Lithobates clamitans), wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), pickerel frog (Lithobates palustris), spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), American toad (Anaxyrus americanus), and Fowler’s toad (Anaxyrus  fowleri) have all been heard calling during their respective breeding seasons. The State-endangered species, southern coastal plain leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius), is known to inhabit and breed at the refuge in shallow open water and isolated vernal pools.