Presqu'ile's many habitats result in a diverse population of reptiles and amphibians. 13 species of amphibians and 10 species of reptiles have been recorded in the park. Interestingly some common species are missing at Presqu'ile despite there being appropriate habitat. For example there are no recent records of Northern Watersnakes in the park, but they are very common in nearby Quinte West.
The most commonly encountered amphibians at Presqu'ile are the frogs. A visit in the spring will provide you with a chorus of frog calls.
This chorus starts in early spring with Chorus Frogs singing from the pannes along the main road. They start singing anytime between mid-March and early April depending on the thaw. They are soon joined by Spring Peepers and in lesser amounts by Leopard Frogs and Wood Frogs. By May, American Toads and Grey Tree Frogs have joined in.
These spring breeding frogs mostly lay their eggs in the temporary pools of the pannes and forest vernal pools, particularly along Jobes’ Woods Trail. How successful a breeding year these creatures have depends very much on the moisture level in the spring. If it is too dry these temporary pools disappear before the tadpoles can turn into frogs and they perish. Some of the spring breeding frogs will also lay eggs in the marsh but the deeper water of the marsh is where the summer calling and breeding Bullfrogs and Green Frogs lay their eggs. They have to use this deeper water in which to breed as their tadpoles take up to two years to turn into frogs and thus cannot use the temporary pools. By the time late June rolls around only these latter two frogs are still being heard singing, usually until mid-July.
Frogs then become quite scarce until into August, when if it has been a good wet year, the young Leopard Frogs are hopping everywhere. Leopard Frogs are our only frog species that forages during the day, out of the water, in open areas and thus routinely crosses paths with people. Another frog visitors routinely cross path with outside the breeding season is the American Toad. It, like the Leopard Frog, forages out of the water, but usually only at night. They are attracted to the lights (or rather to the insects that are attracted to the lights) at buildings, and a few toads are usually seen around comfort stations in the campground on summer evening.
By contrast, our other amphibians, the salamanders, are rarely seen. They live under logs or underground in the forest. A concerted search is often required to find them. Although in some wet years you might find one living underneath your camping equipment!
Amphibians have very sensitive skin and are sensitive to chemicals like bug spray, sunscreen, etc. We ask that visitors avoid picking up and handling amphibians in order to protect these sensitive creatures.
Many of the reptiles in the park are considered Species at Risk. Two of the largest factors in the decline of reptiles and amphibians are habitat loss and road mortality. Here at Presqu'ile work has been done to reduce road mortality by installing fencing and wildlife tunnels along the main park road. These tunnels provide a safe passage for turtles and other animals as they move from one area of the park to another.
Here at Presqu'ile we have five species of turtles but only two species are seen regularly - Common Snapping Turtle and Midland Painted Turtle. The best time of year to see a turtle at Presqu'ile is in June when the females come up to the roadsides to lay eggs. If you see a turtle laying eggs please give her space. You can also contact park staff and they will arrange to protect the nest from predators.
As you drive along the park roads, drive slowly and keep an eye out for turtles and other wildlife throughout the year.
Snakes are also vulnerable to road mortality, particularly so in the cool spring and fall, when they come out on the road to bask. Every year snakes are killed in the Park, including the Eastern Milk Snake, a Species at Risk. Please drive with caution in the Park. The most common snake seen by far is the Eastern Garter Snake. It can be found throughout the Park during the spring, summer, and fall.
Three other species of snakes are regularly encountered in the park but they require a concentrated effort to find. It is possible that Northern Watersnakes could be found in the park but there are no recent, documented records.
You can help us expand our knowledge of the reptiles and amphibians around Presqu'ile! Add your sightings to iNaturalist, a community science initiative that allows anyone to submit sightings of plants and animals. Learn more about iNaturalist and getting started here.