Do You Know Your Invasive Reptiles and Amphibians?

redsliderWe’ve got a little quiz for you about invasive reptiles and amphibians. You hear a lot about invasive critters when they first arrive, like the snakehead fish a few years back. But once they settle in and the damage they cause becomes routine, they may drift out of the headlines. That’s the case with some of these animals.

Give the quiz a whirl. Winners, feel free to treat yourself to something sweet and healthful!Bullfrog

  1. What are the four most common ways that non-native reptiles and amphibians are introduced to an area?

Ships: Ships can carry aquatic organisms in their ballast water.

Wood products: Animals can get into wood, shipping palettes and crates that are shipped around the world.

Ornamental plants: Some ornamental plants hide reptiles and amphibians that can escape into the wild and become invasive.

Pet trade: Some invasive species were pets released intentionally or accidentally.

  1. Name an invasive amphibian that is native to Fairfax County but is impacting the west coast. What are some of the possible ways it was introduced there?

American Bull Frog: Possible ways it moved west are accidental introduction during trout stockings; through the aquarium trade; for sport hunting; for pest control. Garden Centers around the United States sell bullfrog tadpoles.

  1. What are some of the negative effects invasives cause on our native reptiles and amphibians?

Invasive species harm wildlife in many ways. When a new and aggressive species is introduced into an ecosystem, it might not have any natural predators or controls.  It can breed and spread quickly, taking over an area.  Native wildlife may not have evolved defenses against the invader, and they may not be able to compete for food and shelter with a species that has no predators to control its population.

  1. Name the only nonnative reptile in Fairfax County that has made some of the 100 most invasive species lists.

Red Eared Slider. This turtle is now found in every body of water in Fairfax.

  1. How can local establishments who sell animals help prevent invasive problems? What are some of the ways you can help prevent nonnative reptiles and amphibians from being introduced to Fairfax County?

Local businesses can educate buyers about the life expectancy of animals (turtles live a long time), the size they’ll reach, and review with customers the state law that forbids the release of pets. Don’t purchase reptiles and amphibians as pets. Educate yourself about native wildlife. The CDC has information about turtles and disease.


Author Tony Bulmer is a naturalist and the senior interpreter at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Anne Cissel, the Deputy Public Information Officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority, contributed to the blog.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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