National Trail offers seven nature preserves that provide rich and diverse habitats for resident wildlife as well as appealing rest stops for migratory birds. The below reptiles have been spotted in National Trail parks. Click each reptile to learn more about them and where they have been seen.
Animal descriptions and images courtesy of ODNR Division of Wildlife.
The American toad is found throughout Ohio. Those living near bodies of water may recognize the toad more by its sound than by sight. It has a long, almost musical, trill that many find a familiar sound as dusk falls on a mid-spring or early summer evening.
Touching a toad doesn’t result in warts for the handler. However, the American toad does produce irritation in human skin. The secretions serve as a defense mechanism for the toad; the potential irritation reduces the likelihood of the toad being handled by people and produces a bitter taste to the animals that might prey on the toad.
Spotted At: All National Trail Parks
The bullfrog is the largest frog in North America. It has a deep, resonant jug-o’-rum call that can be heard reverberating from Ohio ponds, marshes, and large, slow moving streams from late April through late summer (they can be heard up to a mile away).
The gray ratsnake is Ohio’s largest snake and one of the most common snakes senselessly slaughtered out of ignorance and fear. The fact is that gray ratsnake snakes are one of Ohio’s most beneficial and splendid reptile assets; they play an essential role in controlling destructive rodents.
Midland painted turtles are among the most abundant and most conspicuous turtles in Ohio. They are particularly fond of basking and can be seen by the dozens on logs and along the banks of most bodies of water through the summer.
There are several subspecies of painted turtles in the United States, but only the midland painted turtle occurs in Ohio.
The milksnake is a true constrictor. It usually throws several loops of its muscular body around its prey. These coils do not crush, but merely exert enough pressure to prevent breathing. The victim soon suffocates and is then swallowed whole. Like other members of the kingsnake group, milksnakes feed primarily upon mice and other small rodents, as well as smaller snakes. They should be considered an asset, worthy of protection on anyone’s property.
The Northern leopard frog was named for the black “leopard spots” on its back, sides, and legs. The male’s call is a low, guttural grunting like the sound produced by rubbing a thumb over a balloon. Leopard frogs sing even when totally submerged in water.
These snakes are frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along streams. When first captured, some attempt to bite. However, their teeth are so small they can barely pierce the skin. Others make no attempt to bite. All use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. For this reason, they do not make hardy captives.
In Ohio, the number of salamanders species (24) exceeds that of frogs and toads combined. One of the species is among the smallest woodland creatures in Ohio. Because of its size, secretive behavior, and lack of vocalizations, the redback salamander is one of the most inconspicuous wildlife residents of the state.
The box turtle gets its name from its centrally hinged plastron (lower shell), which enables both front and rear portions of the plastron to be drawn up tightly against the carapace (upper shell). This “boxes in” the turtle for protection.
The greatest threat to Ohio’s box turtles is the thoughtless driver who makes no attempt to avoid running over them as they lumber across the highway.
Ohio Status: Species of Concern