Herp Update: Special Request, Current Herp Activity – April 24, 2023

Herp Update: Special Request, Current Herp Activity – April 24, 2023

Special request

Herpers, I have been asked to be on Vermont Public’s Vermont Edition program this Thursday at noon.  It is an hour-long radio program from 12-1 that is rebroadcast at 7 PM in the evening.  Jane Lindholm was the former host of this program and she had a strong interest in wildlife and natural history, so she or her producer would invite me to be on the program annually to talk about herptiles.  However, Jane is no longer the host, and this is the first time I have been invited to be on the show since she left the program.  I am hoping we can show that Vermont Public listeners are very interested in wildlife generally and reptiles and amphibians specifically.  What I am hoping will happen, is that the new producer and host will be impressed with the number of people who are calling in with questions or e-mailing them questions either while we are on the air or before.   So, please do think up a few questions regarding VT herptiles, and either e-mail them to: vermontedition@vermontpublic.org before or during the show, or call 1-800-639-2211 with your questions during the show.  Your question could involve natural history, conservation, identification, or anything related to Vermont reptiles and amphibians.  I hope we hear from you.

Current Herp Activity

The unusually warm weather we had last week, generated some activity from species that are not often active this early in the year.  We had reports of Gray Treefrogs calling in Hinesburg (Kate Kelly) and Burlington (Teage O’Connor) on April 14 and 15.  We have one report of this species calling as early as March 28 back in 2020, but the great majority of calling activity for this species begins in May.  Matt Gorton found a few on the move on North Street in New Haven on April 17.  Even more unusual was the American Bullfrog Matt found crossing North Street on April 17th (his photo below).  Then while checking a salamander trap during a field trip, Kate Kelly and I caught a juvenile American Bullfrog in a vernal pool in Hinesburg.  This is the first time I have ever captured a bullfrog in a trap set for Spotted Salamanders.  American Bullfrogs are not usually active at the same time and in the same places as Spotted Salamanders.

A couple additional reptile species have been seen out and about.  Rick Armitage sent in a photo of a beautiful Eastern Ratsnake seen on April 14, and a Five-lined Skink seen on April 21.  Judy Schaaf reported seeing a Smooth Greensnake in Royalton on April 16th.

The most unusually-early sighting was a string of American Toad eggs photographed in Lincoln on April 21 by Erin Talmage (see photo below).  We have never had a report of American Toad eggs this early in the year.

At all the pools I have visited in the past couple weeks, Wood Frogs are long gone, leaving only their egg masses.  We are still seeing a few new Spotted Salamander egg-masses being deposited but not many.

I visited Morgan Road here in Salisbury last night after the rains.  Adult Wood Frogs, Spotted Salamanders, and Blue-spotted Salamanders were no longer migrating.  Four-toed Salamanders were still moving into the swamp and Eastern Red-backed Salamanders appeared to be out for a snack, but not going in any specific direction.  On my last two visits to Morgan Road, no adult Wood Frogs were seen or heard, but a few very small Wood Frogs, about one year old, were moving down slope into the swamp.  They are too young to reproduce, but the swamps are a better place to stay moist and find food then the hillside where they spent the winter.  Spring Peeper choruses are now widespread and loud.

Don’t forget to call or e-mail this Thursday.

A string of American Toad eggs coiled under water.An American Bullfrog sits on a paved road surface.

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