The woodlands, streams and riverbanks found within the units of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) provide habitat for a total of 21 species of reptiles that live here. These include eleven species of snakes, two species of skinks, and eight species of turtles.
The eleven species of snakes known from GWMP are, Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi), Northern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen), Eastern Worm Snake (Carphophis a. amoenus), Northern Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardsi), Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta), Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon), Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata), Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos), Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata), and Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis). Only one of these, the Northern Copperhead, is venomous. Northern Copperheads have been reported from Turkey Run and Great Falls Parks, where they are fairly common.
The two species of skinks known from GWMP are the Broadhead Skink (Eumeces laticeps) and the Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus). These two species can look quite similar at certain stages of their life cycles. However, the Broadhead Skink matures at a larger size than that of the Five-lined Skink.
A total of six species of native turtles and two non-native (introduced) species have been recorded from GWMP. The six native species are Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys p. picta), Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra s. serpentina), Red-bellied Turtle (Pseudemys rubiventris), and Wood Turtle (Clemmys insculpta). Feral, introduced, species include the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and Chinese Shoftshell (Pelodiscus sinensis).
The Wood Turtle is known in GWMP from a single record from Great Falls Park in 1994 and a record from Turkey Run Park in 2005. The Chinese Shoftshell is known only from a 2006 record from Dyke Marsh. The Wood Turtle is a state listed (rare) species in Virginia. Any observations of Wood Turtles or Softshell Turtles, or other species not listed here, within GWMP should be reported to the park's Natural Resource Management Staff.
Did You Know?
Great Falls Park is the northernmost site of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. One of the nation's first canals can be seen here. More...