Reptiles and amphibians
La Mauricie National Park
There are 21 species of reptiles and amphibians in the park, despite its northern latitude. This is due to the extensive drainage system and the variety of habitats available. The park encompasses a portion of one of the biggest and northernmost populations of wood turtle, a species now considered to be threatened in Canada.
Frogs, toads, newts and salamanders
Amphibians are extremely important components of many ecosystems, fulfilling the roles both of predator and prey. In some ecosystems, if you were to take out all the birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians and weigh them by group, the amphibians would weigh more than any other group of vertebrate animals. That's a lot of amphibians!
In the forest and on the edge of ponds, we can observe:
- Wood frog
- Spring peeper
- American toad
- Two-lined salamander
- Blue-spotted salamander
In ponds and lakes, the following species can be observed:
- Green frog
- Mink frog
- Northern leopard frog
- Pickerel frog (rare)
- Grey treefrog
Unfortunately, like many other amphibians, frogs are declining around the world, even in pristine and protected areas such as La Mauricie National Park. This decline is due to the combined effects of several factors such as increased ultraviolet radiation, pollution, habitat destruction, climate change, the introduction of exotic species and the spread of diseases or fungi.
Often unloved, snakes are essential to the ecosystem. They feed heavily on insects and rodents. In the park, visitors have nothing to fear because all snake species are harmless.
The Common garter Snake is the most common and is found everywhere. Occasionally, it is possible to encounter two smaller species, the Red-bellied Snake and the Ring-necked Snake. Finally, the presence of the Smooth green Snake remains probable, but not confirmed.
Turtles are the most fragile species in the world. In the park, there are three species of turtles: the wood turtle, the snapping turtle and the painted turtle. In 2007, the wood turtle has been listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as a threatened species.
The wood turtle is a medium-sized, semi-aquatic turtle. Physical characteristics include a dark brown sculpted shell and a reddish-orange colouring on the inner sides of its legs and throat. It inhabits slow-moving rivers and streams that have gravel or sandy banks for nesting. It spends a lot of time on land and often travels great distances from streams. Its terrestrial habitats include alder swales, grass-sedge forbs, fields, meadows and mixed forest.
Visitors can help protect turtles. If you observe a turtle, you must not disturb it! Inform a park employee and enter your observation online at carapace.ca. If a turtle is on the side of the road, you can help it cross, but be sure to do so safely.
Human activity is both directly and indirectly the main cause of wood turtle decline.
- destruction of their habitat
- stabilization of stream banks causing loss of nesting beaches
- accidental killing of turtles by motor vehicles
- collection of turtles as pets or for the pet trade
- egg predation (by raccoons, skunks, otters and others)
- late onset of sexual reproduction (age 15)
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