Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibians

Most people in New England associate the sound of spring peepers and American bullfrogs with the coming of springtime. These are two of approximately 11 amphibian species that live in Acadia's wetlands, streams, and ponds. We have one toad species, six species of frogs, and four salamander species.

 
a green frog partially submerged in water
A green frog lying in wait

Will Greene, NPS, Friends of Acadia

The one toad species in Acadia is the American Toad. This species is able to eat a variety of invertebrates and tends to be seen feeding on land during or just after rain storms. One of the most remarkable things about the American Toad is that they sometimes live to be over 30 years old! Six species of frogs also add to the chorus heard around wetlands and ponds in the park. The most common frog species are American bullfrog and green frog. Their tadpoles can often be seen along the edge of Acadia’s lakes and ponds. Gray treefrogs are unique compared to the other frogs in Acadia because they are arboreal. Adults live in trees and are even able to change their skin color over time to match the tree trunk they live on. Pickerel frogs, spring peepers, and wood frogs are the other species that can be seein in wetlands throughout the park.
 
a bright orange eastern newt in its terrestrial stage called a Red Eft. Bi
A Red Eft. The terrestrial stage of an Eastern Newt's life cycle.

NPS Photo

Acadia is also home to four species of salamanders. On rainy days in the spring or by flipping over rocks or logs (make sure to return them when done) you can see these beautiful creatures. The largest species in Acadia is the Spotted Salamander, often reaching lengths of 6-10 inches long. Seeing one is very special because, although they are the largest, these salamanders spend most of their time underground. The species that is only found in New England is the Northern two-lined Salamander. Mostly seen around rocky streams and spring pools, an easy way to identify this salamander is by observing two black lines that run down its back. Eastern Red-backed Salamanders are found in damp places under rocks and logs throughout hilly slopes in forested areas. The last and smallest salamander found in Acadia is the Eastern Newt. When hiking in the park one might come across a bright orange salamander. This is the juvenile stage of the Eastern Newt. The juvenile stage, also called a red eft is the only time this animal is found on land. Adults live in permanent pools and return to a dusky gray or brown coloration. The bright orange color of the red eft is a warning sign to potential predators, like mice, that their skin is poisonous.
 

Reptiles

Acadia only has seven known species of reptiles. This includes five snakes and two turtles. Fortunately for visitors, none of the snakes are venomous. Probably the most common and best known is the garter snake . These cold-blooded animals need to warm their bodies up in the sun, especially on cool mornings, so be courteous and don't disturb them. Other snakes found in Acadia are the smooth green snake, redbelly snake, ringneck snake and eastern milksnake. Eastern milksnakes are often mistaken for rattlesnakes because they practice mimicry. Eastern milksnakes will flick the tip of their tail in gravel or leaf litter to simulate the sound of a rattle. This behavior and their striking red and white colors help protect these snakes from a variety of predators and surprise many visitors in the park.

 
A baby snapping turtle
A baby common snapping turtle finding its way through lilypads.

Will Greene, NPS, Friends of Acadia

The park is home to just two species of turtles – common snapping turtle and eastern painted turtle. The common snapping turtle gets a bad reputation because of its aggressive behavior while on land (watch out for your fingers!) and because of its somewhat prehistoric looks. Don't let them fool you though - these reptiles are remarkably docile while in the water. Eastern painted turtles, with their reddish undersides, can often be seen warming up on logs and rocks near ponds and lakes. Watch out for both of these species crossing roads in the warmer months, and especially on the carriage roads near ponds in June, where females like to nest and lay eggs in the sandy substrate.
 

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    Last updated: October 6, 2021

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