While Trail Guides are not expected to know everything they encounter along the trail, knowing some of the most common things can be helpful.  Remember this, though:  It is better to say, “I don’t know” than to give inaccurate or misleading information.  Don’t be afraid to say, “That’s a really good question and I don’t know.  I’ll have to look that one up!”

Here are some of the most commonly encountered animals at Audubon.  Oh yes, there are plenty more.  But this list is a good place to start!

(Brief descriptions of each coming soon.  Also, some of the animals listed link to other pages with more information.  Mouse over the titles to see if a link is available…)


  • Northern Water Snake:  This snake can be light gray or dark brown and the patterns on the skin can be quite variable.  Young Water Snakes that have recently shed may have distinct stripes.  Older specimens may appear to have no pattern at all.  Northern Water Snakes can be 2-4 feet long.  You may find them along the banks of the pond, sunning themselves on logs or in the branches of pond-side trees, or swimming.  While they are not venomous, they can be agressive and inflict a serious bite.  A mild anticoagulant in the snake’s saliva may prevent blood from clotting.  Water Snakes eat fish and frogs.  We sometimes happen upon one in the midst of a meal…

Northern Water Snake Baby Water Snake

  • Eastern Garter Snake:  Like the Water Snake, Garters can be quite variable in color and patterns, but most have yellow stripes down their sides.  You may find garters near the ponds, but also in the woods.  They eat frogs, toads, salamanders, leeches, and earthworms, among other things.  They may emit a foul smelling musk when handled.

Garter Snake With Tongue Out

  • Snapping Turtle:  Snapping turtles are definitely the biggest of the turtles you will see at Audubon.  Some weigh as much as 35 pounds.  Snapping turtles are omnivores and eat large amounts of plants, but also a wide variety of animals including insects, fish, birds, and more.  Often, all you see of a snapper is the snout and top of the shell as she basks in the sun just under the surface of the water.  Sometimes, though, they do come out of the water.

Snapping Turtle by Tom LeBlanc

Baby Snapping Turtle - by Sarah Hatfield

  • Painted Turtle:  Painted turtles get their name from the lovely yellow and red markings on their faces and shells that make them look as though someone painstakingly decorated an otherwise drab olive creature.  They tend to be fairly skittish, diving back under water when they see you coming.  Try to approach the pond slowly and scan the logs for basking turtles.

Painted Turtles

Painted Turtle by Jeremy Martin


  • Green FrogGreen Frog:  Green frogs can be green or brown, or grayish to black depending on where you find them.  Green frogs will have ridges that start behind their eyes and run parallel down their backs.  Their “songs” sound like someone has stretched a thick rubber band and is plucking it.  “ngunk… ngunk…”
  • BullfrogBullfrog:  Bullfrogs can also vary in color.  The ridges that start behind the bullfrog’s eyes curve around the “tympanum” (ear) and end at the shoulder.  Listen for the deep, loud “Brrrrmmmm.” Both Green Frogs and Bullfrogs live in ponds as adults.
  • Leopard FrogNorthern Leopard Frog:  The leopard frog body is speckled like a leopard and the song almost sounds like the purring of a big cat.  Like Green Frogs and Bullfrogs, there can be much variation in color. After breeding in the ponds, the adult frogs often return to fields and brushy areas to seek shelter and food.
  • American Toad:




Life Under a Log

  • Earthworms:
  • Slugs:
  • Centipedes:
  • Millipedes:


  • Snails:
  • Freshwater Clams:

Emergencies/Safety <–Previous  *  Next–>Ecosystem Concepts

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