Lamprey River Advisory Committee: helping communities protect and enjoy the Lamprey River through resource protection, research and outreach.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Informal observations by individuals along the river have identified six species of turtles, ten species of snakes, eight species of frogs and toads, and four types of salamanders living in the Lamprey River corridor. For details, please see Appendix D of the Lamprey River Resource Assessment from 1994.
In 1993 and 1994, David Carroll, respected naturalist and artist, surveyed the river from Newmarket to Raymond for turtles. He discovered that all six of New Hampshire’s native turtle species (Blanding's, musk, painted, snapping, spotted, and wood) live near the Lamprey. He was particularly glad to find Blanding's turtles (endangered in New Hampshire) and spotted and wood turtles (threatened in New Hampshire).
In order for these turtles to continue to live on the Lamprey and its tributaries, they and their habitats need to be protected.
Maintain natural water flow levels in the river and wetlands.
Protect riverbanks and upland corridors from development for nesting and travel.
Let beavers create and maintain wetland areas.
Leave bushes and natural woody material in and along the river.
Leave turtles in their natural homes and never take them home as pets.
Drive slowly on roads in turtle areas and help them across if possible.
Do not let children or dogs harass turtles.
Ten species of snakes are found in the area around the Lamprey River. To many people, snakes evoke fear and dread. Such reactions have bad consequences for snakes, people, and the environment. All snakes in New Hampshire are important in the ecosystem: they help to control rodent and insect populations, they are an important prey food for larger animals, they add to biological diversity, and they often serve as indicators of healthy ecosystems. Their absence from traditional habitats is a cause for concern.
Almost all snakes in New Hampshire are non-venomous. In fact, all are non-venomous except one, the timber rattlesnake. The timber rattler is very rare, in fact, it is critically emperiled, and is protected by law. The only known population in New Hampshire is in the Lamprey River landscape. Most snakes, including timber rattlers, are not aggressive to people and have no reason to be so unless they are provoked. They are most often observed resting in a sunny spot.
Many snakes are still common in New Hampshire, but all snakes suffer losses from encounters with cars, loss of habitat to development, and human fears that lead to deliberate killing. The best response to fear is education. The more we know about snakes, the less we have to fear, and the better we can protect these interesting and important animals. The best role we can play in assuring a positive future for snakes is to leave them alone.
Although amphibian populations along the Lamprey River have not been formally studied since 1994, other studies frequently note the presence of many amphibians, including some that are becoming rare. Amphibians that rely on vernal pools to breed warrant special attention. For more information about vernal pool amphibians, the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has an excellent Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools.