AUGUSTA, Maine - With the arrival of spring, it is a great time to discover the amphibians, snakes and turtles of Maine, and now, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has informative posters that can both aid in your discovery and help protect some of Maine's most cryptic and least understood species.
Each of the posters features full color photographs on the front side for identification, and a biological summary of species distribution, habitat preferences, breeding information, and current threats to their existence as narratives on the backside of the poster.
The three posters are available through the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Information Center by calling 207-287-8000. They are $3.00 each or $8.00 for the full set. Funding for the poster project was provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and from the Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund (proceeds from the Chickadee Checkoff and Loon License Plate).
The amphibian poster features Maine's frogs, toads, salamanders and newts. When not breeding in wetlands many amphibians live in forests and fields, usually in moist habitats such as rotting logs, small mammal tunnels, beneath leaf litter, and inside tree hollows. Most of Maine's amphibians breed and lay eggs in streams, wetlands, and vernal pools but one species - the Redback Salamander -- is entirely terrestrial.
The turtle poster features seven turtles that are found in Maine. It includes two state endangered species, the Blanding's and Eastern Box Turtle, and one state-threatened species - the Spotted Turtle. Also included are the Common Musk Turtle and the Wood Turtle, both species of special concern in the state. Immediately recognizable to most viewers are the Common Snapping Turtle and the Painted Turtle - Maine's two most common turtle species. Turtles belong to an ancient group of animals that has been present on earth for more than 200 million years, long before the appearance of mammals.
The snake poster feature's Maine's ten snakes, including the eastern racer, which is endangered in Maine, and the eastern ribbon snake, a species of special concern. The backside features biological summaries and interesting life history details such as the fact that redbelly snakes are a gentle creature that forage on slugs and other garden pests.
Spring is a great time to discover amphibians and reptiles in Maine! Spring peepers are delivering deafening choruses from our larger marshes and swamps, vernal pools are bubbling with activity from wood frogs and spotted salamanders, and myriad snakes and turtles are emerging from their long winter hibernation to bask on sunny logs and shorelines.
"Maine's 34 species of frogs, salamanders, snakes, and turtles make an important contribution to the state's natural heritage," according to wildlife biologist Phillip deMaynadier. "Both as predator and prey, reptiles and amphibians play significant roles in the complex food chains of Maine's forests and wetlands. Their motley colors, shapes and choruses also enrich the outdoor experiences of children, naturalists, and sportsmen. Maine would be a poorer place without them"