A Natural History of Millbrook Marsh,
A Wetland In An Urbanizing Setting

Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibians and reptiles have not been systematically inventoried in Millbrook Marsh, though nearly every type of wetland is habitat for some species. Many are obligate wetland species, though some are obligates during only part of their life. Adults are usually predatory carnivores and are also prey of many wetland birds, mammals and fish (McCoy 1989). Amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals are part of the diet of other fauna in the wetland, including shorebirds and waterbirds. The belted kingfisher, seen in Millbrook Marsh, eats crayfish, insects, mollusks, tadpoles and fleshy fruits as well as fish. One study showed that the diet of great blue heron, also found at Millbrook, consists of 4.25% amphibians and reptiles and 4.66% mice and voles besides the fish (71.55%) it eats (Rible 1995).

In Pennsylvania there are at least 14 species of salamanders, 14 frogs and toads, 9 turtles, and 6 snakes whose habitat requirements are met by various areas of Millbrook Marsh. There were 16 species of amphibians found in 26 headwater wetlands and streams in a study by Brooks et al. (1996) conducted in central Pennsylvania with some sites with habitat requirements similar to Millbrook Marsh. The two amphibian species seen so far at Millbrook are the Northern spring peeper (Hyla crucifer) and the Pickerel frog (Rana palustris).

There is one reptile of special concern whose habitat requirements could be met at Millbrook. The federally endangered bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) is found in wet meadows with a combination of vegetated tussocks and seeping water, bogs, fens and marshes, or intermittent springs and seeps (McCoy 1989). There have been 4 reptile species seen so far in Millbrook Marsh (Table 6-13) (R. Brooks, pers. comm). According to Netting and Richmond, Hopkins, and Bellis, many more species of reptiles and amphibians could be expected in the State College area (PennDOT 1981).

Table 6-13
Amphibians and Reptiles Observed in Millbrook Marsh 1993 to 1997
(Brooks et al. 1998)

Common Name Scientific Name
Common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina
Eastern garter snake Thamnophis sirtalis
Northern spring peeper Hyla crucifera
Northern water snake Nerodia sipedon
Pickerel frog Rana palustris
Wood turtle Clemmys insculpta

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