Bog turtle

Bog Turtle. (Photo courtesy Lori Erb)

Updated: August 18, 2021
By Andrew Kling

Woodland Wildlife Spotlight - Maryland's Endangered Reptiles and Amphibians

Maryland has a diverse range of habitats for plant and animal species, from mountains in the west to coastal wetlands in the east. The state is home to an amazing variety or wildlife — but mention “wildlife,” and many people will mention larger animals such as deer, foxes, or turkeys. They rarely think of reptiles or amphibians. Maryland is either home to or visited by a variety of reptiles, including 20 species and sub-species of frogs and toads, 19 species and sub-species of turtles and tortoises, 27 different snakes, and six types of lizards. However, due to a variety of pressures, several of these species are facing declining numbers.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service maintains a list of rare, threatened and endangered species across the state. Species with populations that have fallen below certain benchmarks are placed into several categories, including “Endangered” (at a very high risk of extinction), “Threatened” (at high risk), “Watchlist” (at moderate risk). The full checklist of reptiles and amphibians of Maryland can be found at this link.

Below are just four species of concern in Maryland. Woodland owners interested in developing or enhancing wildlife habitat may wish to investigate if their property would be beneficial for these species.

Barking Treefrog

This photograph captures just one of the many colorations found in barking treefrogs. It may change due to habitat and temperature conditions, but usually has some shade of green on its back with diagnostic round ring-like patches. It is currently listed as Endangered within its native habitat of Delmarva Bays, vernal pools and adjacent sandy soil woods of the lower shore counties. While they spend much of their time high in treetops, they also burrow in sandy soils.

Bog Turtle

The smallest North American turtle, this species prefers relatively open habitats with slow-flowing streams or surface seeps. These burrowers need soft soil for digging. They are found in small portions of Maryland’s north-central counties, from Cecil to Carroll. The bog turtle is both Federally and State Threatened due to habitat loss and collector pressures.


It is important to remember that this is a venomous snake. It is the only Maryland snake with a rattle.

This species prefers upland forested areas with rocky outcrops and talus slopes. It is active during the day during the spring and fall and is nocturnal to avoid the summer heat. The timber rattlesnake is considered a Watchlist species in Maryland and found from Frederick to Garrett County.

Northern Coal Skink

The skink is a member of the lizard family. Of the four species of skinks found in Maryland, the northern coal skink is the only one that is currently listed as Endangered. It has only been found in Garrett and western Allegany counties, and there are no recent records of sightings. Its natural habitat is moist wooded areas, near springs or creeks. It may take cover in rocky outcrops or under leaf litter.