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Watchable Wildlife – Reptiles and Amphibians

There are 14 amphibian species, nine species of turtles, 10 lizard species and 29 snakes that call Nebraska home.

Snakes

Snakes are most active in warm weather (75-90°F) and tend to avoid both cold and extremely hot temperatures. Search for snakes when the temperature is right. In the spring, snakes will be more active in the daytime. In the summer, when days are sweltering, snakes will be active at night. Watch for them on paved surfaces or trails where they pause to warm themselves. Snakes will be found close to their prey, so look for snakes in areas with rodent activity, like woodpiles. Snakes are secretive and may also be found under logs or rocks.

Amphibians

In Nebraska, amphibians can be found anywhere there is water. Even a temporary pool can provide habitat. All amphibian species in Nebraska return to aquatic habitats for breeding, so search aquatic habitat by listening for calls, especially at dusk.

Turtles

Nebraska has both aquatic and terrestrial turtles. When near ponds or rivers, look on rocks or logs where turtles may be warming in the sun. Any body of water in Nebraska can be considered habitat for the Northern painted turtle. The ornate box turtle is Nebraska’s only native terrestrial turtle. They are found statewide, but in greatest densities in the Sandhills.

Lizards

Lizards can be found throughout Nebraska, but they have greater diversity in the west. The prairie lizard is found in western Nebraska. It is primarily a ground-dwelling lizard that is nearly always associated with yucca plants. Six-lined racerunners are also ground-dwelling, but live up to their name by running rapidly to cover when approached. They are diurnal and active even on very hot days. Racerunners are found nearly statewide, but are much more abundant in western counties and the Sandhills.