Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrate animals that are covered in scales (though some have scales so small they look just like smooth skin!). These include snakes, lizards, and turtles, all of which can be found throughout the forests and ponds of WNC. At the WNC Nature Center, check out the turtle pond next to Otter Falls to see our box turtles and fresh water turtles in the warmer months—in winter, they’re still there, just buried under the warm mud and leaves. Appalachian Station houses some of our slithering collection, including the venomous timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead.
Amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, are particularly sensitive to changing environmental conditions. For this reason, one-third of amphibians worldwide are threatened. Many scientists study amphibians to test how healthy the environment is. The American hellbender, or “snot otter”, is one of the largest salamander species in the world and is found in some of WNC’s streams.