Amphibians and Reptiles
Rouge National Urban Park is home to 27 species of reptiles and amphibians. Here are a few to watch out for while exploring the park.
Garter Snake and Red-bellied Snake
Watch for snakes sunning themselves on the trail on cool sunny days. Garter snakes are typically dark green or black with yellow stripes on their back and sides. They grow to about 45-65 cm in length and feed on frogs, salamanders, earthworms, small fish and mice. Red-bellied snakes are brown, grey, or black with a red belly, as their name suggests. They grow to a maximum length of 40 cm and eat slugs, worms, snails and insects. Neither species is dangerous to humans.
Green Frog and Gray Tree Frog
Listen for frogs in the evening as you walk along the Rouge Marsh Trail. The call of a green frog sounds like the twang of a loose banjo string. They range in colour from green to bronze or brown. The gray tree frog’s call is a short trill. As their name suggests, these frogs can be found on trees and shrubs near wetlands.
Northern Leopard Frog
The Beare Wetlands are a great place to find several species of frogs, including the northern leopard frog. This species is green or brown with dark spots and a white belly. Northern leopard frogs are found in every province in Canada and can occupy a wide range of habitats.
Northern Map Turtles
Northern Map turtles get their name from the yellow or orange lines on their shell that resemble contour lines on a map. The rest of the shell is greenish-brown to more yellow-cream on the lower part. They have a yellow spot between their eyes and yellow lines along their head and legs. Find these turtles in wetlands, ponds and streams in the park.
Of the five native turtle species that have been observed in Rouge National Urban Park, the painted turtle is the only one that is not classified as a species-at-risk. Painted turtles have a dark upper shell with red markings along the edge and a yellow or tan lower shell. Look for them basking on the logs in the Beare Wetland ponds on sunny days.
The most common invasive turtle in Ontario, the red-eared slider is distinguishable by the bright red stripe it has on either side of its face.
Snapping turtles are classified as a species of special concern under federal law. These prehistoric-looking turtles have a dark upper shell and a long tail covered in bony plates. They are the largest freshwater turtle in Canada. Snapping turtles are threatened by various factors, including habitat loss, road mortality, poaching and nest predation by animals such as raccoons.
Western Chorus Frog
The western chorus frog is small and smooth skinned, and ranges from green-grey to brown in colour. They are almost identical to boreal chorus frogs; the difference is their shorter hind legs. Like most tree frogs, they are much easier to hear than spot, so keep your ears open for a call that sounds like running a finger along a comb.