Reptiles and Amphibians of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Northern Scarlet Snake; Matt Buckingham – A Naturalist’s Journey, Flickr, and Instagram
Gulf Coast ToadMatt Buckingham - A Naturalist’s JourneyFlickr, and Instagram

What is Herpetology?​

Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians.  East Texas is home to many types of reptile and amphibian species including snakes, turtles, alligators, and lizards (reptiles) and salamanders, frogs, and toads (amphibians). Collectively, all of these species may also be referred to as herpetofauna.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Longleaf Pine Ecosystems in East Texas

Western Pygmy RattlesnakeScott Wahlberg

Across the southern United States, the historic range of the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) once occupied 90 million acres (36 million hectares).  By the early 1900s, this iconic forest had been reduced to 3 million acres, with disjunct locations from Virginia to Florida to east Texas.  With habitat reduced in size and condition, some species, like the Louisiana Pine Snake in Texas and Louisiana and the Gopher Tortoise in the eastern part of the longleaf range, dramatically declined.  Some species are now listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern across the range.

Amphibians and reptiles typically do not travel great distances, meaning their “home range” can be relatively small in size.  Protection and management of terrestrial and aquatic habitat for species is vital for their survival.  With smaller ranges they may be challenged to adapt to new site conditions and remain resilient.

Prime habitat for timber rattlesnakes, Catahoula Boulders in Angelina National ForestScott Wahlberg

Management and Safety

Landowners play an important role in improving habitat and protecting reptiles and amphibians in their natural environments.  Implementing land management activities and exercising caution in the outdoors helps to ensure the health and wellbeing of our Texas herpetofauna.

Resources

  1. iNaturalist
  2. Herps of Texas: References for Amphibian Identification (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)
  3. Herps of Texas: Frogs and Toads Found in Texas (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)
  4. Texas Snakes: A Field Guide (Texas Natural History Guides) July 14, 2020.  Authors James R. Dixon, John E. Werler, and Michael Forstner.