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An Atlas to Track Connecticut Critters That Slither, Hop, and Crawl

Dennis Quinn
Connecticut Herpetology
Spotted salamanders are common throughout Connecticut in deciduous forest.
"You can look through a variety of pictures and see what species you might have encountered."
Dennis Quinn

If you’ve found yourself out hiking Connecticut’s trails this summer, you may have encountered a snake or two. Would you be able to tell the difference, though, between a non-poisonous water snake and a poisonous northern Copperhead?

That's the purpose of a new website called Connecticut Herpetology, created by Dennis Quinn, an environmental scientist specializing in reptile and amphibian research. "I set it up so you can look through a variety of pictures and see what species you might have encountered," he said. "Once you have identified what it could potentially be, you can click on it."

That click yields more photographs, which Quinn said he has compiled from years spent photographing reptiles and amphibians in the wild. Each page also has information about animal size, color, behavior, and habitat.

Credit Dennis Quinn / Connecticut Herpetology
Connecticut Herpetology
A bog turtle is three to four inches in length and rarely encountered in the wild. The state has listed it as endangered.

Quinn said the site also allows users to report exotic or non-native pets, like the red-eared slider, which owners often release into the wild. "This is a problem, because this species is capable of out-competing native species here in Connecticut," he said. "We’re worried if the number of red-eared sliders begins to take off, we’re going to eventually lose some of our native turtle populations."

There is also a reporting mechanism for snakes spotted exhibiting symptoms of  Snake Fungal Disease, a poorly-understood emerging condition in the northeast.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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