Reptiles & Amphibians
Hays County’s herpetofauna (population of reptiles and amphibians) is diverse and unique—reflecting the County’s position at an intersection of several of the state’s eco-regions and the one-of-a-kind habitats associated with Edward’s Aquifer and Edward’s Plateau.
The County is home to approximately 25 amphibian species; organisms that must have moist habitats during a portion of their lives. Ponds, streams, and wet prairies host breeding choruses of frogs and toads all year round, although most species lay eggs and call in the spring and summer. The County is also home to a unique species, the Cliff Chirping Frog, that calls from limestone outcrops (and perhaps the rock-work of your stone house!) and lays its eggs in damp pockets in rocky crevices. While terrestrial salamanders are rare in Hays County (the White-throated Salamander is most common), the County is home to some very unique species in the genus Eurycea – small salamanders that never become land-dwelling and are associated with spring-fed habitats with clean, cold water. Some, such as the Texas Blind Salamander, even spend their entire lives in caves and passageways of the Edward’s Aquifer.
Over 50 reptile species have been reported from Hays County. Turtles, including Red-eared Sliders, Texas Cooters, and Spiny Softshells, are commonly seen basking on logs and debris of local rivers and ponds, while even more species can be found below the surface. Ornate Box Turtles may be encountered in grasslands and open woodlands.
Lizards are abundant in leafy debris and under rocks. One of the lizard species seen around is the Texas Spiny Lizard, known for its spiky appearance and its tendency to climb on trees and walls. A truly unique encounter in rocky areas is the Texas Alligator Lizard, named for its large scales.
Hays County has its share of snake diversity, all doing their part to control varmint and other prey. The most common venomous species are Coral Snakes, Water Moccasins, and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes. Non-venomous species are much more common and diverse, ranging from small blind snakes to large rat snakes.
The County’s crawling and slithering residents play important roles in controlling insects, rodents, and other pests in the county. Thoughtful landscaping, like leaving areas of native cover at ground level or installing water features, can enhance the diversity of wildlife on your property, and minimal application of pesticides can protect water quality for people and for reptiles and amphibians. Citizens can also learn to identify unique species and help track how vulnerable wildlife species are doing by participating in citizen science programs such as Texas Nature Trackers and entering data and pictures on iNaturalist.