Reptiles and amphibians have figured prominently in the folklore and superstitions of almost every culture and civilization throughout history. The secretive habits, unusual shapes, and, in some cases, dangerous attributes of these animals have always given them exalted status in the realms of the imagination. According to fossil evidence, reptiles and amphibians have each been the dominant land vertebrates during various periods in the earth's history. Salamander-like amphibians as large as crocodiles once cruised through primeval swamps, and were later supplanted by the scaly-skinned, desiccation-resistant reptiles whose tracks can still be seen in the sedimentary rock strata of the Connecticut River valley. Modern reptiles and amphibians, drastically reduced in size and status from former times, are today in need of public compassion, protection and understanding to survive in an increasingly human-altered environment.

Historically, the scientific community regarded reptiles and amphibians as lesser members of wildlife communities; consequently, comparatively little research was conducted on their ecological roles and requirements until relatively recently. Today they are recognized as important and dynamic elements of biodiversity with essential functions in food webs, soil and wetland ecology, and the energy recycling systems of forests. Research indicates that these two faunal groups, especially the amphibians, may be among the best indicators of environmental quality. Several species have also made important contributions to medical science, providing the basis of many life-saving drugs. As further light is shed on the functioning of their immune systems, skin secretions, venoms, and other physiological and biochemical processes, it seems certain that reptiles and amphibians will yield many other useful discoveries.

(3rd ed., 2000, Revised 2009)

James E. Cardoza & Peter G. Mirick, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Fauna of Massachusetts Series No. 3


Date List Last Updated: April, 2009 

CAUDATA: Necturidae (Mudpuppies and Waterdogs)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
MudpuppyNecturus maculosusIntroduced to the Connecticut River drainage in Amherst some years prior to 1936. However, there are records from the Conn. River in CT as early as 1875. The mudpuppy is also reported from a few lakes in southern Berkshire County. Mudpuppies do occur naturally in Lake Champlain in VT and in the Hudson River, but were probably introduced to the western Massachusetts locales.
CAUDATA: Ambystomatidae (Mole Salamanders)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
  Jefferson Salamander pdf format of Jefferson Salamander
*Ambystoma jeffersonianumBerkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and western Worcester counties. Listed as "Special Concern".
Blue-spotted Salamander pdf format of Blue-spotted Salamander
*Ambystoma lateraleReported from Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and eastern Worcester counties. Records of specimens west of Worcester County may represent Ambystoma jeffersonianum and other members of this species complex. Listed as Special Concern
Spotted SalamanderAmbystoma maculatumStatewide except Nantucket Island.
Marbled Salamander pdf format of Marbled Salamander
file size 1MB *Ambystoma opacumStatewide except Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties. There are old records for Essex and Plymouth counties. Listed as Threatened.
NOTE: Polyploid "species" formerly described as "Tremblay's Salamander (Ambystoma tremblayi) and "Silvery Salamander" (Ambystoma platineum) are now considered to be genetic variants of the Jefferson/Blue-spotted salamander complex, containing 2-4 sets of chromosomes.
Salamandridae (Newts)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Eastern NewtNotophthalmus viridescensStatewide except Nantucket County.
Plethodontidae (Lungless Salamanders)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Northern Dusky SalamanderDesmognathus fuscusStatewide except Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties.
Eastern Red-backed SalamanderPlethodon cinereusStatewide.
Four-toed Salamander pdf format of Four-toed Salamander
Hemidactylium scutatumStatewide except possibly Suffolk counties.
Spring SalamanderGyrinophilus porphyriticusBerkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties.
Northern Two-lined SalamanderEurycea bislineataStatewide except Dukes, Nantucket, and possibly Barnstable counties.
ANURA: Pelobatidae (Spadefoot Toads)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Eastern Spadefoot pdf format of Eastern Spadefoot
*Scaphiopus holbrookiiEastern Massachusetts and Connecticut River valley area. Extirpated from Martha's Vineyard Island. Listed as Threatened.
Bufonidae (True Toads)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
American ToadAnaxyrus americanusStatewide except Nantucket County.
Fowler's ToadAnaxyrus fowleriStatewide except probably extirpated from Nantucket County.
Hylidae (True Tree Frogs)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Spring PeeperPseudacris cruciferStatewide
Gray TreefrogHyla versicolorStatewide except Martha's Vineyard Island and Nantucket County.
Ranidae (True Frogs)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
American BullfrogLithobates catesbeianusStatewide. Recently introduced to Nantucket island and probably established there.
Green FrogLithobates clamitansStatewide.
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustrisStatewide.
Northern Leopard FrogLithobates pipiensStatewide except Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket Counties. Due to the widespread release of leopard frogs from extra-limital sources, their original distribution and native status is uncertain.
Wood FrogLithobates sylvaticusStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.



TESTUDINES: Chelydridae (Snapping Turtles)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Snapping TurtleChelydra serpentinaStatewide.
Kinosternidae (Mud and Musk Turtles)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Eastern musk turtleSternotherus odoratusStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.
Emydidae (Pond Turtles)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Painted TurtleChrysemys pictaStatewide.
Spotted TurtleClemmys guttataStatewide except northern Berkshire County and possibly Suffolk County.
Wood Turtle pdf format of Wood Turtle
*Gleptemys insculptaStatewide north and west of northern Bristol and Plymouth counties. Reports from Barnstable County probably reflect released animals. Listed as Special Concern.
Bog Turtle pdf format of Bog Turtle
*Gleptemys muhlenbergiiRecorded from Berkshire County only. Listed as Endangered in MA and Threatened on U.S.F.W.S. list.
Blanding's Turtle pdf format of Blanding's Turtle
*Emydoidea blandingiiBristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester counties. Older records exist for Franklin County. Listed as Threatened.
Diamond-backed Terrapin pdf format of Diamond-backed Terrapin
*Malaclemmys terrapinCoastal areas of Barnstable, Bristol, and Plymouth counties. Introductions of terrapins from extralimital sources occurred on at least 2 occasions. Listed as Threatened.
Northern Redbellied Cooter pdf format of Northern Red-bellied Cooter
*Pseudemys rubriventrisFormerly listed as "Plymouth Redbelly Turtle" (Pseudemys rubriventris bangsii). Recorded from Plymouth County. Listed as "Endangered" by Massachusetts and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Eastern Box Turtle pdf format of Eastern Box Turtle
*Terrapene carolinaNearly statewide. Listed as "Special Concern".
TESTUDINES: Cheloniidae (Sea Turtles)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Loggerhead Seaturtle *Caretta carettaRecorded from coastal southeastern Mass. One record from Essex County (2008). Listed as "Threatened".
Green Seaturtle*Chelonia mydasUncommon vagrant from southern waters. Recorded from coastal Barnstable, Dukes (Martha's Vineyard), and Nantucket counties. Listed as "Threatened".
Hawksbill Seaturtle*Eretmochelys imbricataRare vagrant from southern waters. Recorded from coastal Barnstable County in 1909, 1968, and 1989. Listed as Endangered.
Kemp's Ridley Seaturtle*Lepidochelys kempiiRecorded from coastal Barnstable, Dukes (Martha's Vineyard), and Nantucket counties. Listed as "Endangered".
TESTUDINES: Dermochelyidae (Leatherback Turtle)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Leatherback Seaturtle*Dermochelys coriaceaRecorded from coastal southeastern Massachusetts. Older records from coastal Essex and Suffolk counties. Listed as Endangered.
LACERTILIA: Scincidae (Skinks)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Common Five-lined SkinkEumeces fasciatusExtirpated. Recorded from Worcester County prior to 1840 and Bristol County c. 1869. However, both the localities and the habitat seem unusual for this lizard and the records are puzzling.
SERPENTES: Colubridae (Harmless Snakes)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Eastern Wormsnake pdf format of Eastern Wormsnake
*Carphophis amoenusRecorded from Connecticut River valley in Hampden and Hampshire counties. Listed as Threatened.
North American RacerColuber constrictorStatewide except Nantucket County. Local subspecies known as "Black Racer"
Ring-necked SnakeDiadophis punctatusStatewide
Eastern Ratsnake pdf format of Eastern Ratsnake

Recorded from Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. Local subspecies called "Black Rat Snake". Listed as Endangered.
Eastern Hog-nosed SnakeHeterodon platirhinosKnown from Barnstable, Bristol, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Plymouth, and Worcester counties.
MilksnakeLampropeltis triangulumStatewide.
Northern WatersnakeNerodia sipedonStatewide except Dukes County.
Smooth GreensnakeOpheodrys vernalisStatewide.
DeKay's BrownsnakeStoreria dekayiStatewide except Martha's Vineyard Island and Nantucket County.
Red-bellied SnakeStoreria occipitomaculataStatewide except Nantucket County.
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritusStatewide.
Common GartersnakeThamnophis sirtalisStatewide.
SQUAMATA: Viperidae (Vipers and Pit Vipers)
Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Copperhead pdf format of Copperhead
*Agkistrodon contortrixAt present, found only in Hampden and Norfolk counties. Listed as Endangered.
Timber Rattlesnake pdf format of Timber Rattlesnake
file size 2MB *Crotalus horridusAt present, found only in Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Norfolk counties. Listed as Endangered.

Those species appearing on the current list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species in Massachusetts as authorized by M.G.L. c. 131, § 4(13A) and c. 131A, § 4 are indicated with an asterisk (*).