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Indiana’s amphibians and reptiles, collectively called “herpetofauna”, occupy nearly every habitat in the state, including lakes, rivers, wetlands, forests, prairies, glades, caves, and dunes. Some species may also be found in agricultural, residential, and urban areas. Many of these curious animals live secretive lives in underground hideaways or simply blend in with their environment. Others may be observed basking on logs, climbing trees, or—as with our state’s frogs—heard calling during their spring and summer breeding seasons.
Indiana is home to 41 species of amphibians (frogs and salamanders) and 54 species of reptiles (turtles, lizards, and snakes). Of these 95 species, about one-third are listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) by the Indiana DNR.
Habitat management and conservation programs for these species are supported through the generosity of Hoosiers who donate to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. No state tax dollars are used to manage these species. Consider donating today.
Monitoring Amphibian and Reptile Populations
Indiana DNR herpetologists conduct research and monitoring to better understand the status and distribution of the state’s amphibians and reptiles. Species now being studied and monitored include crawfish frogs, plains leopard frogs, eastern spadefoots, streamside salamanders, green treefrogs, red-bellied mudsnakes, and green salamanders.
- Green Treefrog Surveys
Indiana DNR herpetologists are conducting surveys for green treefrogs along the Wabash and Ohio river corridors in southern Indiana to search for new populations. Indiana’s first green treefrog population was discovered in Evansville in 2003, and the frogs have since been expanding their range into new parts of the Ohio and Wabash river valleys. The frogs are now known in eight Indiana counties. Green treefrog range expansions have been observed in other states and stand in stark contrast to amphibian declines occurring globally.
- Streamside Salamander Population
The Indiana DNR is mapping populations of streamside salamanders, an Indiana SGCN, to better understand their status in the state. Streamside salamanders have a small geographic range that includes parts of south-central and southeast Indiana and are undergoing a rangewide status review by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. During the surveys, streamside salamanders have been identified at several locations in seven Indiana counties. This information will be included in the federal review to determine if the salamanders warrant federal protection across their range.
- Plains Leopard Frog Status Surveys
Plains leopard frogs are a state endangered species whose Indiana status has been a mystery for several decades. To better understand the species’ status and distribution, Indiana DNR is conducting surveys across western Indiana using both visual and call survey techniques. Since 2019, plains leopard frogs have been identified in several new areas and counties, including sites along the Wabash River in west-central Indiana. Information collected during this study helps Indiana DNR herpetologists better understand plains leopard frog habitat use and conservation status in the state.
- Eastern Spadefoot Status Assessment
Indiana DNR herpetologists have partnered with an external researcher to study the statewide distribution of eastern spadefoots. Spadefoots are a secretive, burrow dwelling species whose Indiana status has not been well understood. Historically, spadefoots were known from only seven counties, but a recent DNR assessment showed the species occurs in at least 26 Indiana counties. Because the species was found to be more common than previously thought, eastern spadefoots were removed from Indiana’s SGCN list.