Coexisting With The Cold-Blooded

A turtle resting on a rock.

April showers bring spring critters! Warming weather means the return of our cold-blooded friends: reptiles and amphibians. Though many people may not claim reptiles or amphibians as their favourite animals, they play an important role in our lives. They’re valuable indicators of environmental health and play a vital role in their ecosystems.

Reptiles include animals such as snakes, turtles and lizards that have scales. Amphibians, such as frogs, toads and salamanders, hatch from their eggs as aquatic larvae with gills and later develop lungs as they transform into adults.

Amphibians are valuable predators that control populations of insect pests, such as mosquitoes. Snakes play a crucial role in keeping rodent populations in check. Sadly, reptile and amphibian populations in Canada are decreasing because of diseases, habitat loss and invasive species.

It’s important to note there are no venomous snakes in the Credit River Watershed. The eastern milk snake and northern watersnakes may be mistaken for other more dangerous species, but these snakes are not found in our watershed.

How You Can Help:

  • Control your pets: Keeping your cats indoors and dogs in a fenced yard and on a leash when walking on trails can reduce the potential for harmful encounters.
  • Wildlife are not pets and pets aren’t wild animals: Ontario’s laws prevent people from keeping native reptiles and amphibians as pets. It’s also prohibited to release any non-native wildlife into nature.
  • Drive carefully: Watch for small wildlife on rainy spring nights (amphibian migration season), during turtle nesting season (May and June) and around wetlands. Snakes especially use driveways and roads to absorb residual heat in the early hours of the morning and before dusk. If you see a reptile or amphibian on the road, encourage it off the road with a stick or pick them up and move them as a last resort.
  • Leave them be: Work on improving habitats for the species on your property by leaving some vegetation for them to shelter under. Never relocate wildlife and avoid handling them as their skin may be sensitive to any chemical products on our hands. 
  • Aquatic habitats: Allow natural vegetation to grow along shorelines. Leave an area with fallen logs or leaf litter for use as cover. Rotting logs give animals space to hide and lay eggs. Basking logs are also beneficial for temperature regulation.

If you’re lucky enough to discover reptiles or amphibians in your yard, take pride that your habitat has been chosen as a sanctuary for these remarkable creatures. Embrace the role you play in fostering biodiversity and promoting a healthy ecosystem.

Have a wetland, stream or pond on your property? We can work with you to improve the health and beauty of these habitats for you and our cold-blooded friends. Learn more.

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