NATURE & SCIENCE: Animals

Face of a red-eyed turtle with yellow markings
Box turtle

NPS Photo by Dan Mohr.

The park is home to 14 species of snakes, 8 species of turtles, and two kinds of lizards. As with amphibians, many suffer population declines from habitat loss or fragmentation, illegal collection, and commercial exploitation. Of the park's 26 species, 8 are of "special concern" in one or both states (Pennsylvania or New Jersey), and one species -- the bog turtle -- is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Commonly encountered reptiles include painted turtles and water snakes. In warm weather, both can often be spotted at one of the park's old farm ponds -- the turtle basking on a floating log and the snake draped over the branches of a shoreline shrub. Look for garter and ribbon snakes in adjacent wetlands. Paddlers on the Delaware River should keep a keen eye out for map turtles, which quietly slip off their basking rocks on close approach.

All too often, our reptilian encounters are with road kills. Please observe speed limits on all of the park's roadways. Turtles and snakes may travel long distances to and from their feeding, nesting, and hibernation sites -- and road crossings take their toll.

Among the least frequently encountered reptiles are the lizards and venomous snakes. Small populations of five-lined skinks, northern fence lizards, northern copperheads, and timber rattlesnakes all inhabit the park but are seldom seen. Hikers, especially on the Appalachian Trail, should learn to recognize our two venomous snakes and, if they encounter them, be sure to yield them the right-of-way and stay clear.

 

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1978 River Road
Bushkill, PA 18324

Phone:

(570) 426-2452
This is the official telephone contact number for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This telephone is monitored during business hours, from Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4: 30 pm. Calls received after those times, will be reviewed the next available business day.

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