Nature Notes

Mount Rainier National Park

Vol. III August 26th, 1925 No. 9

Issued weekly during the summer season, monthly during the winter by the Nature Guide Service.
F. W. Schmoe,
Park Naturalist.
O. A. Tomlinson,

By F. W. Schmoe, Park Naturalist.

The list of " creeping things " found in the National Park is a short one. Due, no doubt, to the cool moistness of the forest floor, the cold nights and the very short season of the high valleys, only half a dozen or so members of either of the great classes of Batrachians or Reptiles are native to the region.

Of Reptiles I know of only one form being found. This is a snake, the common garter snake and it is seldom seen. Small ones are occasionally found low in the valleys and have been reported as high up as Reflection Lake, 4,800 feet elevation, but nowhere are they abundant.

So far as I have been able to learn no lizards or turtles are found.

Of the class of Batrachians two orders are represented very sparingly. These are the salamanders and the frogs. At least two or three species of salamanders occur in the region and these like all the batrachians go through a larva stage in which they have tail fins and external gills and live in the small pools and marshy areas of the upper valleys. In this stage they are known to all small boys as mud-puppies. Later they absorb the gills and live a very different life on land returning to the water only to lay their jelly-like messes of eggs. In the aquarium at the Naturalists Office several individuals of two species have lived all summer, along with a number of frogs and other water animals, and we have been able to observe the change from eggs to swimming larva and the later change to the land form.

Apparently only two or three species of frogs are native to the region. Early in the spring the lower swamps are alive with a tiny green tree frog, which are seldom found later in the season.

In the small shallow ponds so numerous in the high park-lands there is mother frog, which is very abundant all through the summer. This is like (the) Western Frog.

Small pools of warm stagnant water at this season of the year are alive with black tadpoles about an inch in legnth. Late in the summer these change into small frogs about a half inch long. During the long winters the frogs bury themselves in the mud and hibernate. Even though they may be frozen stiff for several months they come out in the spring as lively as ever.

Frogs require from four to eight years to reach maturity. The adult western frog is from two to three inches long. (four to five inches with legs extended) with a dark back and a light, sometimes reddish belly. They can change their color at will and very rapidly. At their palest stage they are a light grey with conspicuous black splotches like drops of spilled ink. As they change to a dark reddish or sooty brown these dark spots disappear. The skin is rough, with two folds down the back and a white stripe from the nose to the forelegs just under the eyes.

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>