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Frogs, Turtles, Snakes, and Other Herps are in Trouble

Frogs, Turtles, Snakes, and Other Herps in Trouble

Before you say you’re not disappointed that frogs, turtles, snakes, and other herps, as they’re called, are in trouble, read on.

Herptiles, or “herps” may be among the most misunderstood of species. Most are not nearly as dangerous as people fear them to be. In fact, they are beneficial in the chain of life. Herps eat insects, rodents, and other pests. Herp numbers are in decline in the United States and worldwide, largely because of the loss or degradation of habitat. Amphibians have been dubbed the aquatic “canary of the coal mine” because they reveal the subtle declines in environmental health.

Different species of amphibians and reptiles have specific habitat needs, and you could help those species by developing particular habitats. You can help herps by improving habitat for wildlife in general. Some of the steps that help most wildlife species, including herps, are:

  1. Keep or establish natural vegetation along ponds, streams, wetlands, fields, and wherever else possible to protect the land and provide food and cover for wildlife.
  2. Large habitat areas are more valuable to herps than a series of small areas. Try to keep from cutting up or “fragmenting” large areas.
  3. Establish well-vegetated corridors to connect patches of habitat, so herps can travel from one to another with protection.
  4. Protect and restore wetlands, including seasonal wetlands, which are some of the most important amphibian habitat.
  5. Establish buffer zones with native vegetation around wetlands.
  6. Leave logs, snags, and other woody debris.
  7. Leave protective vegetation 50-75 feet wide along streams to guard against streambank erosion and to provide cover for herps.
  8. Manage cattle carefully near streams.
  9. Manage forestland for a diversity of understory plant habitats.
  10. Use selective spot spraying or wick application if herbicides are applied near waterways. Avoid them if you can.

For more information about conservation practices that can improve wildlife habitat on your land, stop at the local NRCS office.

Wildlife Ways

Did you know....
Snakes can go for months without eating. Many turtles live for more than 50 years. Some frogs can survive being frozen for long periods of time. The world of herptiles--amphibians and reptiles-- is a fascinating one.


If you encounter any problems with the file provided on this page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.

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Specification 645: Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (PDF; 191 KB)