Reptiles and amphibians

Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Kejimkujik is an important national park for reptiles in Atlantic Canada. Eight reptile species live here; including five snake species and three turtles.

The area is also a natural haven for salamanders, frogs and toads. All of the 13 of Nova Scotia's known species of amphibians are found in Kejimkujik or its immediate vicinity. This includes five salamanders, one toad and seven frogs. The abundance of slow-moving rivers, streams, shallow lakes, bogs and a few marshes, coupled with warm summers and moderate winters, are probably the main reasons Kejimkujik features such a variety of amphibians.

Eastern Painted turtle Eastern Painted turtle
Photo: J. Steeves

Snapping turtle Snapping turtle
Photo: D. Cairns

Blanding's turtle Blanding's turtle
Photo: T. Herman


Kejimkujik is the richest area for turtles in Atlantic Canada. Three kinds of aquatic turtles (the Eastern painted turtle, Snapping turtle, and Blanding’s turtle) live in shallow coves along the lakeshore or in quiet sections of rivers where there is an abundance of food including aquatic plants and insects.

Eastern painted turtle

The Eastern painted turtle is the most commonly seen turtle in the park. It is quite often seen basking in the sun on logs and stumps along the Mersey River.

Snapping turtle

Kejimkujik is the only national park in the Maritimes to have a documented nesting population of the snapping turtle. These turtles usually only leave the water during the nesting season, in late June and early July. Their eggs hatch in late September and early October.

Blanding’s turtle

The Blanding’s turtle, Kejimkujik’s rarest turtle, is easily identified. It grows to a medium size, approximately 22 cm long, and has a distinctive dark green dome-shaped shell covered with yellow flecks. The underside of its chin and neck are bright yellow. The Blanding’s turtle inhabits vegetated coves, slow flowing brooks and stillwaters. A few beaches are its preferred nesting areas.

In 2005, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) uplisted the Nova Scotia populations of the Blanding's turtle from "threatened" to "endangered." It is therefore considered a “species at risk”. 

Staff and volunteers protect and monitor Blanding’s turtle nesting areas.

Maritime garter snake Maritime garter snake
Photo: S. Lunn
Eastern redback salamander Red eft stage of Red-spotted newt
Northern green frog Northern green frog


Five species of snakes occur in Kejimkujik. The two species probably occurring most commonly are the Maritime garter snake and the Northern red-bellied snake with both the Northern ring-necked snake and the Eastern smooth green snake less common. The fifth species, the Northern ribbon snake, is present in low numbers.


Four of the five species of salamanders occurring in Nova Scotia, have been found within Kejimkujik. These are the Yellow-spotted salamander, the Red-spotted newt, the Eastern redback salamander and the Four-toed salamander. Of these, the Four-toed salamander is very rare.


Nova Scotia is home to seven species of frogs and one toad. These are the Northern spring peeper, Bullfrog, Norther green frog, Mink frog, Northern leopard frog, Wood frog, Pickerel frog, and American toad.

Green frogs are common along waterways, and Bullfrogs are regularly heard calling in areas of lush aquatics while Pickerel frogs hunt the reedy lakeshores.

Keep wildlife safe and wild

The chance to observe wild animals as they go about their natural lives is one of the most fascinating experiences that Canada’s national parks have to offer. However with this opportunity, comes the responsibility to treat wild animals with the respect they deserve, and need.

  • Do not feed or handle any reptiles or amphibians
  • Keep pets on a leash at all times
  • Drive slowly

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