Herp Update: Recent Herp Activity – December 29, 2023

There is still some limited and unprecedented herptile activity taking place. Keep your eyes open during this unusually warm and wet weather.

Recent Herp Activity

Amphibians (and some reptiles) still on the move

While working on our Middlebury Christmas Bird Count report over the last few days, new reports of herptile activity have continued to come in. Yesterday, Janice Perry sent in a report and photo of a young American Bullfrog active in Charlotte and Hannah Regier sent in a report and photo of Green Frog active in Athens. The day before on December 27, Peter Hollinger found a young Painted Turtle basking on the ice in Sharon and Francesca Nocito found a Wood Frog on the surface in Salisbury (see photos below). Herp Atlas staff Erin Talmage and Kate Kelly also found a single Wood Frog dead on the road surface while performing a night-time road search on North Street in New Haven on the same night. It was the only amphibian that they found. I also went out on the night of the 27th to check our Morgan Road crossing here in Salisbury and found no amphibians active.

These are the first reports ever of Wood Frogs and Painted Turtles active (and out of water) anywhere in the state, during the last week of December. Both species require temperatures above freezing (it was closer to 45 F). The Painted Turtle required open water from which to emerge. Painted Turtles usually would be trapped under the ice at this time of year. In addition to the warm temperature, the Wood Frogs required wet weather, no snow cover, and ground that was not frozen, in order to be active. As you are no doubt aware, those are our current conditions. Wood Frogs are usually frozen in the leaf litter in December.

Earlier this month on a warm and rainy December 17, Kate Kelly reported two Eastern Red-backed Salamanders and a single Gray Treefrog moving on North Street in New Haven. The evening after, Chris Turner and I checked Morgan Road here in Salisbury and found three Eastern Red-backed Salamanders and a Gray Treefrog moving.

So, herptile activity is clearly slowing down, but the unseasonably warm weather is generating some exceptionally late reports.

The photos below show below are from top to bottom: Janice Perry’s young American Bullfrog, Hannah Regier’s Green Frog, Peter Hollinger’s young Painted Turtle, and Chris Turner’s photo of Francesca Nocito’s Wood Frog.

Tagged with: , , ,