U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Although reptiles and
Reptiles are cold-blooded, dry-
skinned vertebrates that usually have
amphibians are often
scaly skin and typically lay shelled
eggs on land. Reptiles consist of
less visible than the
animals such as turtles and snakes.
other wildlife that
(Chelydra serpentina), Common,
8–18", 10–45 pounds. Found in
freshwater impoundments, snapping
turtles are black to light brown, and
are easily recognized by their large
heads and saw-toothed ridges along
Refuge, they make up
their tails and back of their shells.
These turtles can usually be found
buried in the mud and are known for
an important part of
their short temper and willingness to
strike if provoked.
the ecosystem. Their
habitats are as varied
as the refuge itself,
some preferring the
others taking to the
sandy dunes. Please
Snapping turtle. Photo: Michael Colopy.
remember to respect
the homes of these
and stay on the
Cover: Fowler’s toad.
Photo: Irene Hinke
Northern diamondback terrapin
Eastern Mud Turtle
(Kinosternon subrubrum), Common,
3–5". This mainly aquatic turtle is
found in freshwater impoundments
and marshes. The Eastern mud
turtle is aptly named after its muddy,
brown-black appearance. The turtle’s
head is spotted or streaked with
yellow; however, the mud turtle is
rarely seen because it hides by day
and forages underwater at night.
Northern Diamondback Terrapin
(Malaclemys terrapin), Common,
Female 6–10", Male 4–6". The
Northern diamondback terrapin is
found in brackish water and salt
marshes, often basking on mud
flats. This turtle’s shell shows deep
growth rings which give it a sculpted
appearance. The shell’s coloration is
variable and the head and limbs are
peppered with black.
Eastern Box Turtle
(Terrapene carolina), Uncommon,
4–8". The Eastern box turtle is
mainly a land turtle, but sometimes
Eastern painted turtle
soaks in freshwater ponds. This
high-domed shell turtle has the
ability to close its back end tight,
which gives it a boxed appearance.
Variable in color and patterns, the
box turtle can be yellow, orange,
olive, black, or brown.
Eastern Painted Turtle
(Chrysemys picta), Common, 4–7".
The Eastern painted turtle is found
in freshwater impoundments, often
basking in the sun. This attractive
turtle has a smooth black shell with
yellow and red markings and yellow
lines and spots on the head.
Irene Hinke Sacilotto.
No venomous snakes exist
on the refuge.
Brown Water Snake
(Nerodia taxispilota), Uncommon,
30–70". The brown water snake is
found in freshwater ponds and
ditches and is an excellent tree
climber. This snake has a head wider
than its neck and is dark brown with
large dark splotches down its back.
Northern Water Snake
(Nerodia sipedon), Rare, 22–53".
The Northern water snake is found
in freshwater ponds or basking on
Red-bellied turtle. Photo: T.E. Graham,
logs on the water’s edge. This snake
can be reddish, brown, or gray to
brownish-black with dark crossbands
on the neck region and blotches on
the back and side.
Uncommon, 10–13". Often seen
basking with the painted turtles,
Rough Green Snake
the red-bellied turtle has a brown-
(Opheodrys aestivus), Rare, 22–45".
black shell. The females can be
A tree dweller found in vines, bushes,
distinguished from the males by the
and trees near water, the rough
vertical red lines down their back.
green snake is very slender and
pea-green in color with a white to
Atlantic Loggerhead (sea turtle)
(Caretta caretta), Uncommon,
30–70", 170–900 pounds. The Atlantic
Eastern Garter Snake
loggerhead is a reddish-brown sea
(Thamnophis sirtalis), Rare, 18–52".
turtle that is occasionally seen
The Eastern garter snake is highly
surfacing in channels and in Toms
variable in color, with stripes or spots
Cove. This turtle has paddle like
dominating. Occasionally some garter
limbs and an elongated, heart-shaped
snakes are all black. Beware, when
shell. Listed as a threatened species.
these snakes are handled they expel
a pungent musk.
Garter snake. Photo: ©Photodisc.
Eastern Hognose Snake
(Heterodon platyrhinos), Common,
Amphibians are cold-blooded
18–45". The Eastern hognose snake
vertebrates that usually lack scaly
is stout-bodied with a pointed,
skin, lay jelly-coated eggs in water,
slightly upturned snout and wide
and go through metamorphosis
neck. The coloration of this snake
(a change in physical appearance).
is highly variable, but it usually
This group of animals consists of
has dark blotches on its back. The
toads, frogs, and salamanders.
hognose snake is best known for the
defensive behavior of “hooding” its
snake. Photo: Irvin
neck, flattening its body and hissing.
(Bufo woodhousii fowleri). Common,
If this fails to elude the predator,
2.5–5". The Fowler’s toad is found
the Eastern hognose rolls over and
in sandy areas, on trails, and around
buildings. This large toad has dry,
warty skin that is yellow, green or
Black Rat Snake
brown in color. The back of the
(Elaphe obsoleta), Common, 34–100".
Fowler’s toad is blotchy while the
This long, powerful constrictor is
chest is paler and unspotted.
shiny black with a white chin and
belly. The black rat snake is an
excellent climber and often resides
(Hyla cinerea), Common, 1–2.5". The
in high tree cavities.
green treefrog prefers moist shady
places. This little frog has smooth
bright green, yellow, or greenish-gray
(Coluber constrictor), Common,
skin with a yellowish stripe along side
34–77". The black racer is a long,
of the body. They often congregate in
slender, agile and fast moving
large groups of several hundreds and
snake. What may seem to be the
tend to rest during the day.
buzzing of a rattlesnake is actually
the black racer vibrating its tail tip
in dead vegetation. If grabbed, this
snake may bite repeatedly and
Green treefrog. Photo: Hollingsworth, USFWS.
Black rat snake. Photo: Robert Wilson, USFWS.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chincoteague is one of over 500
refuges in the National Wildlife
Refuge System administered by
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The National Wildlife Refuge
System is a network of lands and
waters managed specifically for the
protection of wildlife and wildlife
habitat and represents the most
comprehensive wildlife resource
management program in the
world. Units of the system stretch
across the United States from
northern Alaska to the Florida
Keys and include small islands in
the Caribbean and South Pacific.
The habitat of refuges is as diverse
as the nation itself.
Bullfrog. Photo: Irene Hinke Sacilotto
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also
manages National Fish Hatcheries,
Southern Leopard Frog
and provides federal leadership in
(Rana sphenocephala), Common,
habitat protection, fish and wildlife
2–5". The Southern leopard frog can
research, technical assistance and
be found in freshwater ponds and
the conservation and protection of
brackish marshes, but forages on
migratory birds, certain marine
land. This nocturnal frog is slender
mammals and threatened and
and green to brown in color with
Equal opportunity to participate in,
and benefit from, the programs and
(Rana catesbeiana), Common, 3.5–8".
activities of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
The largest frog in North America,
Service is available to all individuals,
the bullfrog is an introduced species
regardless of age, race, religion, color,
at the refuge. This frog is found in
sex, national origin, or disability.
freshwater ponds and has green to
Contact: U.S. Department of the
yellowish skin with occasional gray
Interior, Office of Equal Employment
or brown markings.
Opportunity, 1849 C Street N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20240.
(Plethodon cinereus), Rare, 2–5".
The redback salamander is dark gray
or black with a reddish stripe along
its back. This salamander prefers the
dark, moist areas under rocks and
leaf litter in the forest.
For further information, contact:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 62
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336-0062
Telephone: 757/336 6122
Fax: 757/336 5273