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Rori Paloski
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Herps of Wisconsin Amphibians and reptiles

Wisconsin is home to 19 species of amphibians (frogs and salamanders) and 37 reptiles (snakes, turtles and lizards). Of these, seven are listed as endangered, one is threatened and 21 are listed as special concern. Additionally, the eastern massasauga is a candidate for federal listing. For detailed information on the rare amphibian and reptile species in the state, including photos and life history information, please see Wisconsin's rare animals.

Species accounts

More information on each group and individual species is available in our Herps of Wisconsin guidebooks.


Frequently asked questions

Find answers to commonly asked questions from the very general to specifics on the groups listed below.

Herp regulations

All native herptiles are considered protected and have some level of protection. An overview of state regulations related to amphibians and reptiles can be found in Wisconsin's Amphibian and Reptile Regulations [PDF].

For any planned land disturbing activities, an Endangered Resources Review should be conducted prior to beginning the project to ensure that there will not be any impacts to rare species and that planned activities are in compliance with Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Law (s. 29.604 Wis. Stats.), as well as other laws pertaining to rare species.

If your Endangered Resources Review has required or recommended timing restrictions or the installation of amphibian and reptile exclusion fencing [PDF] in relation to a species’ inactive period, the last day of each species inactive period for the current year is listed below - i.e., fence installation or work during a species inactive period must be completed by the date listed below.

  • Eastern massasauga rattlesnake, Blanchard’s cricket frog, Butler’s gartersnake – finalized at April 9, 2014 (end of the day)
  • Blanding’s turtle (south of Highway 10) – finalized at April 9, 2014 (end of the day)
  • Blanding’s turtle (north of Highway 10) – finalized at April 12, 2014 (end of the day)
  • Wood turtle (south of Highway 10) – finalized at April 9, 2014 (end of the day)
  • Wood turtle (north of Highway 10) – finalized at April 12, 2014 (end of the day)

Wisconsin frog and toad survey

Northern cricket frog calling
Northern cricket frog calling

The primary purpose of the citizen-based Wisconsin frog and toad survey (WFTS) is to determine the status, distribution and long-term population trends of Wisconsin's frog species. The WFTS was initiated in 1981 in response to known and suspected declines in several Wisconsin species. The WFTS began annual statewide surveys in 1984 and is now one of the longest running amphibian monitoring projects in North America.


For more information on the WFTS and to learn how you can participate please visit the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Website [exit DNR].

Wisconsin turtle conservation program

Ornate box turtle
Ornate box turtle

The Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program (WTCP) is a citizen-based monitoring program designed and implemented by the DNR. The main goals of the WTCP are to catalog species' statewide distributions and to document high turtle mortality locations along roads in order to promote effective management and conservation of Wisconsin’s 11 turtle species. Find out how you can help. [exit DNR]

Protected species

All native herptiles are considered protected, but have different levels of protection. Endangered and threatened species (including parts and all life stages) may not be collected, dead or alive, or possessed without first having a valid endangered species permit. Species classified as "protected wild animals" may not be collected in Wisconsin. The species listed below have NO OPEN SEASON.

Endangered and threatened herps
Blanchard's cricket frog Acris crepitans
Eastern massasauga rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
Ornate box turtle Terrapene ornata
Eastern ribbonsnake Thamnophis sauritus
Queensnake Regina septemvittata
Western ribbonsnake Thamnophis proximus
Slender glass lizard Ophisaurus attenuatus
Wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta
Protected wild animals
Blanding's turtle Emydoidea blandingii
Gray ratsnake Pantherophis spiloides
Gophersnake Pituophis catenifer
Timber rattlesnake Crotalus horridus
North American racer Coluber constrictor
Last revised: Wednesday, May 07, 2014