Reptiles & Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians aren’t numerous in North Idaho and those that do live here can be quite elusive. I’ve yet to see a blue-tailed skink or a northern alligator lizard. One more reason to be outside poking around!


Some animals capable of growing new appendages

Lizards are one of the more well-known animals to regrow their tail after shedding it to evade predators. Last week, I wrote about autotomy (the process of voluntarily shedding a body part) and how it is advantageous at first but can cause hardship afterwards. Certain animals alleviate these hardships by…

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Animals utilize self-amputation for numerous reasons

Northern alligator lizards and western blue-tailed skinks possess two unique abilities in the animal world–they can self-amputate their tail and grow it back. The process of voluntarily shedding a limb or tail is called autotomy and the ability to grow it back is called regeneration. Animals capable of autotomy include…

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Tiny salamander delivers big surprise to predators

What has large bulbous eyes, a blunt snout, a long fourth toe on its hind foot and is three to four inches long? A long-toed salamander. The long-toed salamander is more widespread than any other salamander species in Idaho–living in northern and central Idaho–and is one of the most widely-distributed…

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Garter snakes most common snake in Idaho

Unlike southern Idaho, north Idaho is thankfully devoid of poisonous snakes. The snakes that do live in the forested region of the north are harmless to humans and the ones you’ll most likely encounter are garter snakes. Two types of garter snakes live in Boundary County–the common garter snake and…

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A boa constrictor in Idaho!

Have you been lucky enough to see Idaho’s only boa constrictor? The rubber boa is smaller than the giant boa constrictor of South America and its secretive nature makes finding one noteworthy. A few weeks ago, I saw my first rubber boa which was basking on the Long Canyon trail.…

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Toad warts not contagious, just toxic

Movement in the garden soil caught my eye as I was preparing to plant seeds. Larger than the spiders, grasshoppers and other insects I had already encountered, I inched closer and found a sand-covered toad. Digging with its back feet, the western toad was shimmying backwards into the soil. The…

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Wandering painted turtles seeking place to lay eggs

Western painted turtles typically don’t wander far from their pond unless it is time to lay eggs. Finding two turtles on the West Side Road over Memorial Day weekend signaled that the females were looking for a suitable nesting location, which can be up to half-a-mile away from water. Being…

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Only cartoon turtles can remove their shell

Burrowed in mud at the bottom of a pond are turtles waiting out winter. Come spring, they will be basking on logs and rocks soaking in the sun’s rays. Since the painted turtle is the only native turtle in Idaho, it is easy to identify. But in other regions of…

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