View Utah’s reptiles, amphibians at Moab’s wetlands preserve

Biologists with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will be at the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve on Aug. 6 to show off two of the most misunderstood forms of life in the world—reptiles and amphibians.

This frog and lizard are among the species of reptile and amphibian the public can see up close at the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve on Aug. 6. Photos courtesy of DWR

“Summer is a great time to learn about wildlife species that have adapted to hot environments,” said DWR spokesperson Faith Jolley in a statement. She said the scientists will have on hand a number of “remarkable” reptiles and amphibians that “thrive throughout Utah. If you want to learn more about these highly specialized species and see them up close, come to a first-of-its-kind … event.”

The event begins at 7 pm and ends at sundown.

Jolly noted that reptiles and amphibians have existed for hundreds of millions of years, “evolving to live in extreme environments ranging from ponds to deserts,” she said, noting they are both “herptiles,” but are otherwise distinctly different.

She said reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates with scaly skin that rly on the environment to regulate their body temperatures. In Utah, there are no less than 31 species of snake, 24 lizard and five species of turtles and tortoises. As an aside, the key difference between a turtle and a tortoise is that turtles are made to live in water and tortoises are designed to live on land.

Amphibians, said Jolley, have smooth skin that is permeable to water and oxygen, allowing them to survive in semi-aquatic environments. The 15 species of amphibians in Utah include frogs, toads and salamanders.

“These incredible animals are often unappreciated,” said Aaron Bott, the division’s outreach manager in southeast Utah. “But their diversity and natural histories are amazing. From the wetlands to the high deserts, they play important roles in the ecosystem. We are very excited to share our knowledge and enthusiasm for snakes, lizards, frogs and other species at this event.”

Bott also said the event is “a great way to have some family fun and deepen your appreciation for Utah’s diverse wildlife species.”

And while it’s free, there is a catch. Attendance is limited to 25 people and registration is required in advance at Eventbrite.com. Specific details on where the event is will be provided at registration, said Jolley.

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