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Amphibians & Reptiles

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find information on several amphibian and reptile species, including descriptions, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management, and research needs.

Give Turtles "a Brake"

Painted turtle on gravel
Painted turtles can live up to 40 years or longer!

Each June, motorists should be on the alert for turtles crossing the road. Turtles are long-lived and well adapted to their natural environment, as they can retreat to the safety of their shell when threatened by predators. But the turtle's shell provides no protection against a major cause of mortality, being struck by vehicles while crossing highways.

Did you know?

  • Our native turtles are on the move in June seeking sandy areas to lay their eggs
  • In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as they migrate to their nesting areas
  • All eleven species of land turtles that are native to New York are declining
  • It may take more than 10 years for a turtle to reach breeding age, and they lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, so the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local population

What can I do to help?

  • If you see a turtle on the road, please try to avoid hitting it with your car
  • Do not swerve suddenly or leave your lane of travel, but take care to avoid hitting turtles while driving to "give turtles a brake"
  • Be on the lookout for turtles and slow down, especially on roads near rivers and marshy areas
  • If you see a turtle in the road or shoulder and you can safely stop your vehicle and approach the turtle, please consider moving it to the shoulder on the side of the road in the direction it was facing; however, we do not recommend approaching snapping turtles

What is the DEC doing?

  • DEC Wildlife staff are working at Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area in St. Lawrence County to create the sandy nesting habitats that turtles prefer and are easy to reach when migrating from their wintering areas
  • These types of habitat improvement projects will help reduce turtle road kill as it may keep them from crossing a highway to find another nesting area

Herp Atlas Project

The Herp Atlas Project was a ten year survey designed to document the geographic distribution of New York State's amphibians and reptiles. The survey information is used to monitor changes in reptile and amphibian populations, guiding habitat and wildlife management decisions.


More about Amphibians & Reptiles:

  • Herps of NY Poster - A poster by DEC staff Jean Gawalt
  • Herp Atlas Project - The Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project (Herp Atlas) was a ten year survey that was designed to document the geographic distribution of New York State's herpetofauna.
  • Blanding's Turtle Fact Sheet - Blanding's Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Bog Turtle Fact Sheet - Bog Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Bullfrog - Where to see the bullfrog. Includes information on preferred habitat, appearance and how to identify.
  • Diamondback Terrapin - Information on the appearance and ecology of the diamondback terrapin and the best places to view them in the wild.
  • Eastern Massasauga Fact Sheet - Eastern Massasauga: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Eastern Mud Turtle Fact Sheet - Eastern Mud Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Eastern (Red-Spotted) Newt - Interesting facts, identification information and habitat preferences of the Eastern newt; and where to go to view them in the wild.
  • Eastern Hellbender Fact Sheet - Eastern Hellbender: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Eastern Tiger Salamander Fact Sheet - Eastern Tiger Salamander: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Northern Cricket Frog Fact Sheet - Northern Cricket Frog: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Queen Snake Fact Sheet - Queen snake species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Snapping Turtle - Information on the appearance, habits and habitat preferences of the snapping turtle. Where to go to view snapping turtles in the wild.
  • Spotted Turtle Fact Sheet - Spotted Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Timber Rattlesnake Fact Sheet - Timber Rattlesnake: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle Fact Sheet - Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle Fact Sheet - Atlantic Ridley or Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Green Sea Turtle Fact Sheet - Green Sea Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle Fact Sheet - Leatherback Sea Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle Fact Sheet - Loggerhead Sea Turtle: species description, life history, distribution and habitat, status, management and research needs.
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    Albany, NY 12233-4754
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