Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area

Reptiles and Amphibians of the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area

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   Packsaddle Wildlife Management area is located in Ellis County, Oklahoma adjacent (north) to the Canadian River. The habitat varies from sandy rolling hills and wooded canyons to river bottomlands. Upland sites contain mixed grass prairie plant communities, canyons contain riparian vegetation including mixed oak and cottonwood stands, and river bottom areas are dominated by cottonwoods, elms, and hackberries. More detailed information on the general habitat and area can be found at:

   The patchwork of habitats at Packsaddle provides habitat for a wide diversity of amphibians and reptiles, including mixed grass prairie species (e.g., Prairie Skinks), western species (e.g., Glossy Snakes), and eastern deciduous forest species (e.g., Brown Snakes). Consequently, it is an excellent place to see many species of amphibians and reptiles of Oklahoma in their natural habitat, especially during April, May, and June.

Open habitat in uplands of Packsaddle
Riparian woodland typical of canyons
Canadian River with hackberry in background
Shinnery Oak on uplands
Mesquite cluster
Typical semi-permanent pond

We surveyed amphibians and reptiles of the Packsaddle WMA during summer of 2006. 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 the Canadian River, 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 different drainage valleys extending on 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 at Packsaddle WMA

   We documented six turtle species in 4 families, 8 lizard species in five families, 21 snake species in 3 families, 8 frog species in 5 families, and one salamander species. An additional five species (one frog and four snakes) are likely to be eventually found at Packsaddle. About a dozen species represent new distributional records for Ellis County and several represent significant range extensions for the species.

   Field work for this survey was conducted by the following researchers: Donald B. Shepard, Laurie J. Vitt, Janalee P. Caldwell, Gabriel C. Costa, Chris Wolfe (Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History), Buddy Brown (Morris High School), and Tim Colston (University of Oklahoma). 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 Packsaddle 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 Trionychidae
Ornate Box Turtle
(Terrapene ornata)

Red-eared Slider
(Trachemys scripta)

Smooth Softshell
(Apalone mutica)
Spiny Softshell
(Apalone spinifera)
Family Kinosternidae
Family Chelydridae
Yellow Mud Turtle (Kinosternon flavescens)
Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Family Phrynosomatidae
Family Crotaphytidae
Family Anguidae
Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)
Eastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
Western Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)
Family Scincidae
Great Plains Skink
(Plestiodon obsoletus)
Southern Prairie Skink
(Plestiodon septentrionalis)
Little Brown Skink
(Scincella lateralis)
Family Teiidae
Prairie Racerunner (Aspidoscelis [Cnemidophorus] sexlineatus)
Family Leptotyphlopidae
Plains Threadsnake (Leptotyphlops dulcis)
Family Colubridae
Kansas Glossy Snake
(Arizona elegans)
Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor)
Prairie Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
Great Plains Ratsnake
(Pantherophis emoryi)
Texas Ratsnake
(Pantherophis obsoleta)
Texas Nightsnake
(Hypsiglena torquata)
Prairie Kingsnake
(Lampropeltis calligaster)
Speckled Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
Western Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum)
Blotched Watersnake
(Nerodia erythrogaster)
Northern Diamond-backed    Watersnake (Nerodia    rhombifer)
(Pituophis catenifer)
Graham's Crayfish Snake (Regina grahamii)
Texas Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
Texas Brownsnake
(Storeria dekayi)
Plains Black-headed Snake (Tantilla nigriceps)
Western Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis proximus)
Texas Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Family Viperidae
Prairie Rattlesnake
(Crotalus viridis)
Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake
(Crotalus atrox)
Western Massasauga
(Sistrurus catenatus)
Family Ranidae
Family Hylidae
(Lithobates [Rana] catesbeiana)
Plains Leopard Frog
(Lithobates [Rana] blairi)
Blanchard's Cricket Frog
(Acris crepitans)
Spotted Chorus Frog
(Pseudacris clarkii)
Family Scaphiopodidae
Family Bufonidae
Family Microhylidae
Plains Spadefoot
(Spea bombifrons)
Great Plains Toad
(Anaxyrus [Bufo] cognatus)
Woodhouse's Toad
(Anaxyrus [Bufo] woodhousii)
Great Plains Narrow-mouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea)
Family Ambystomatidae
Western Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma marvortium)
Red-spotted Toad
(Anaxyrus [Bufo] punctatus)
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Plains Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
Marcy's Checkered Gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus)

Ground Snake
(Sonora semiannulata)


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This page last modified July 26, 2011