Eastern box turtle

An eastern box turtle cautiously surveys its surroundings at Malvern Hill

(NPS photo)

There are many interesting species of reptile to be found at Richmond National Battlefield Park. Turtles, snakes, and lizards abound throughout the various habitats found within park lands. Reptiles are cold-blooded species and therefore rely on heat from the environment to regulate their body temperature. Reptiles are less likely to be spotted during periods of extreme hot or cold because they often seek shelter during these times to moderate their environment.

When conditions are suitable, visitors to Richmond National Battlefield Park may see reptilian species such as eastern box or painted turtles. Black rat snakes can be found sunning themselves by the side of many miles of park road. The five-lined skink with its florescent blue tail can be easily seen darting along the forest floor, while the Eastern fence lizard's camouflage allows it to remain unnoticed against the tree bark background. Only one species of poisonous snake, the northern copperhead, can be found in the park. Northern copperheads, along with most other species of snakes, are shy animals that will actively avoid human contact. These snakes provide an important check to the population growth of small rodents that could otherwise become pests.

Just as northern copperheads are an integral part of the ecosystem, all of the reptile species at Richmond National Battlefield Park help maintain the complex balance of the natural environment. While driving in the park, it is important to be alert to the presence of snakes and other animals along the road as the park strives to provide them with a safe home.

Did You Know?