Cookson Hills Wildlife Management Area

Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cookson Hills Wildlife Management Area

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    The Cookson Wildlife Management area is located in southeastern Cherokee and southwestern Adair Counties in Oklahoma east of the Arkansas River. The WMA contains steep and rolling hills with extensive rocky outcrops. Permanent and intermittant streams and springs occur in the valleys and some limestone caves underlie the area. Meadow openings occur at lower elevations, and some open areas at upper elevations contain grassland with cacti. More detailed information on the general habitat and area can be found at:

   The patchwork of habitats at Cookson WMA provides habitat for a wide diversity of amphibians and reptiles, including a few western species (e.g., e.g., Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes), but predominantly eastern deciduous forest species (e.g., Western Worm Snakes ). Because the Cookson Hills is an extenson of the Ozark Plateau, a number of species characteristic of the Ozark Plateau are common (e.g., Cave Salamanders). Like other WMAs, the Cookson WMA is an excellent place to observe many species of amphibians and reptiles of Oklahoma in their natural habitats, especially during April, May, and June, and again in early Fall.

View of the Cookson Hills
Stream in Bolin Hollow
Amphibian breeding pond
Typical hardwood forest habitat
Frank Lee Spring
Rock outcrops in the Cookson Hills

We surveyed amphibians and reptiles of the Cookson Hills WMA during summer of 2008. We used a variety of techniques to observe and register amphibians and reptiles during our survey. They include haphazard searches through all habitats, drift-fence trapping with funnel and pitfall traps, hoop net trapping for turtles, night searching of ponds and streams, and road cruising for some nocturnal species. We established two sets of drift-fence arrays. Each array consisted of three plastic fences approximately 8 m in length with minnow traps on each side of each wing. Centrally placed pitfall traps were added after determining that no archeological or historic sites were present. Twenty arrays were established in two areas extending on to adjacent hillsides. Each array was monitored at least once per day over a 2.5 month period. We recorded all amphibians and reptiles trapped and released most animals at the site of capture. A drawing of the funnel trap array appears below as well as a photograph of an array.

Structure of one drift-fence array
Photograph of a drift-fence array

   We documented five turtle species in three families, six lizard species in four families, 24 snake species in two families, 13 frog species in five families, and eight salamander species in three families. An additional eight species (two salamanders, two lizards, two turtles, and two snakes) may eventually befound at Cookson Hills WMA because all have been found nearby.

   Field work for this survey was conducted by the following researchers from the University of Oklahoma: Donald B. Shepard, Laurie J. Vitt, Janalee P. Caldwell, Tim Colston, Randy Lewis, Gabriel C. Costa, Sam Martin, and Buddy Brown. All field studies were conducted under the auspices of Scientific Collecting Permits (all participants) issued by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and an IACUC protocol issued by the University of Oklahoma. Voucher specimens and tissues collected during this study are deposited in the Herpetology Collection and the Genomic Resources Collection, respectively, of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman.

No reptiles or ampibians are considered endangered and threatened in Oklahoma (see Threatened and Endangered Species of Oklahoma).

Click one of the following for a downloadable checklist of amphibians and reptiles of the Cookson Hills WMA (doc file)(pdf file)

                        **Click on photographs below to view individual species accounts, each of which includes advice                on how to observe each species in the field.

Family Emydidae
Family Chelydridae
Gulf Cooter
(Pseudemys concinna)
Three-toed Box Turtle
(Terrapene carolina)
Red-eared Slider
(Trachemys scripta)
Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Family Kinosternidae
(Sternotherus odoratus)
Family Phrynosomatidae
Family Scincidae
Southern Plains Fence Lizard (Sceloporus consobrinus)
Five-lined Skink
(Plestiodon fasciatus)
Broad-headed Skink
(Plestiodon laticeps)
Little Brown Skink
(Scincella lateralis)
Family Crotaphytidae
Family Teiidae
Eastern Collared Lizard
(Crotaphytus collaris)
Prairie Racerunner
(Aspidoscelis sexlineatus)
Family Colubridae
Western Worm Snake
(Carphophis vermis)
Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer
(Coluber constrictor)
Prairie Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Prairie Kingsnake
(Lampropeltis calligaster)
Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
Red Milksnake
(Lampropeltis triangulum)
Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)
Plain-bellied Watersnake
(Nerodia erythrogaster)
Midland Watersnake
(Nerodia sipedon)
Rough Greensnake
(Opheodrys aestivus)
Great Plains Ratsnake
(Pantherophis emoryi)
Texas Ratsnake
(Pantherophis obsoleta)
Midland Brownsnake
(Storeria dekayi)
Redbelly Snake
(Storeria occipitomaculata)
Flat-headed Snake
(Tantilla gracilis)
Western Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis proximus)
Texas Gartersnake
(Thamnophis sirtalis)
Rough Earth Snake
(Virginia striatula)
Smooth Earth Snake
(Virginia valeriae)
Family Viperidae
Osage Copperhead
(Agkistrodon contortrix)
Western Cottonmouth
(Agkistrodon piscivorus)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake
(Crotalus atrox)
Timber Rattlesnake
(Crotalus horridus)
Western Pygmy Rattlesnake
(Sistrurus miliarius)
Family Ranidae
(Lithobates [Rana] catesbeiana)
Green Frog
(Lithobates [Rana] clamitans)
Pickerel Frog
(Lithobates [Rana] palustris)
Southern Leopard Frog
(Lithobates [Rana] sphenocephala)
Family Hylidae
Blanchard's Cricket Frog
(Acris crepitans)
Gray Treefrog
(Hyla versicolor/chrysoscelis)
Spring Peeper
(Pseudacris crucifer)
Cajun Chorus Frog
(Pseudacris fouquettei)
Family Bufonidae
Family Microhylidae
American Toad
(Anaxyrus [Bufo] americanus)
Woodhouse's Toad
(Anaxyrus [Bufo] woodhousii)
Eastern Narrow-mouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
Great Plains Narrow-mouth Toad
(Gastrophryne olivacea)
Family Scaphiopodidae

Hurter's Spadefoot
(Scaphiopus hurteri)

Family Plethodontidae
Dark-sided Salamander
(Eurycea longicauda)
Cave Salamander
(Eurycea lucifuga)
Gray-bellied Salamander
(Eurycea "multiplicata")
Western Slimy Salamander
(Plethodon albagula)
Family Plethodontidae
Family Ambystomatidae
Ozark Zig-zag Salamander
(Plethodon angusticlavius)
Ringed Salamander
(Ambystoma annulatum)
Spotted Salamander
(Ambystoma maculatum)
Small-mouthed Salamander
(Ambystoma texanum)
Family Salamandridae
Eastern Newt
(Notophthalmus viridescens)
Spiny Softshell
(Apalone spinifera)
Mississippi Map Turtle
(Graptemys kohnii)
Southern Coal Skink
(Plestiodon anthracinus)
Western Slender Glass Lizard
(Ophisaurus attenuatus)
Northern Diamond-backed    Watersnake
(Nerodia rhombifer)
Northern Scarlet Snake
(Cemophora coccinae)
Southern Crawfish Frog
(Lithobates [Rana] areolata)


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This page last modified August 1, 2011