Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
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Riparian Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
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Riparian Life Zones General Information

General Information

Riparian Life Zones Tamarisk Russian Olive

Tamarisks & Russian Olives: Problem Trees

Riparian Life Zones Fish

Fish

Riparian Life Zones Awesome Adaptations Awesome Adaptations

Riparian Life Zones Plants Trees of the Riparian Life Zones

Plants and Trees

Riparian Life Zones Mammals

Mammals

Riparian Life Zones Birds

Birds

Riparian Life Zones Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles & Amphibians

Colorado Life Zones General information Interactive Life Zone Diagram Colorado Life Zones Maps Semidesert Shrublands Life Zone West CO Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zones Foothills Woodlands and Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones Colorado Life Zones General information Interactive Life Zone Diagram Colorado Life Zones Maps Semidesert Shrublands Life Zone West CO Plains Life Zones
Reptiles & Amphibians of the Riparian Life Zones

    Riparian habitats support many different types of reptiles. Though, the majority of species live at or below the foothills in elevation. Turtles often rest on logs or shorelines and slip into the water whenever they sense danger. Lizards and skinks eat the many insects that hatch from the water. There are many choices of foods for snakes. They eat small birds, birds’ eggs, lizards, toads, frogs, fish, small rodents, and even other snakes. With so many food sources, many different species of snakes live in the riparian habitats.

    Amphibians have adapted their entire life cycle around riparian habitats. Frogs, toads, and tiger salamanders hatch from eggs laid in the water and turn into tadpoles. The tadpoles live in the water until they change into their adult form.  Frogs and tiger salamanders need to stay in wet places to keep their skin moist. Toads are able to travel a little farther from their riparian habitats; but, they must return to lay their eggs in water. Here is a fun fact: sometimes adult tiger salamanders keep their gills and stay living in the water their whole lives.

Different kinds of frogs:

CO Herp. Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Leopard Frog

Different kinds of toads:

CO Herp Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Boreal Toad

Different kinds of turtles:

CO Div of Wildlife

CO Herp. Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Western Painted Turtle

Different kinds of snakes:

CO Herp. Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Common Garter Snake

Different kinds of skinks:

CO Herp. Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Great Plains Skink

Tiger Salamander

CO Herp. Society

Hogle Zoo

Bush Gardens

eNature

Tiger Salamander

Different kinds of Lizards:

CO Herp. Society

CO Herp Atlas

CSU NDIS

Utah Div of Wildlife

Plateau Striped Whiptail    
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Awesome Adaptations: Western Painted Turtle

   The western painted turtle became the state reptile of Colorado in 2008. They are one of the few types of turtles that can be found across Colorado and the western United States. The western painted turtle got its name from its sometimes bright yellow, orangish-red, and dark grayish green patterns on the bottom of its shell. They have dull dark grayish green upper shell to help it blend into its environment. The turtle has clawed webbed feet which help it swim quickly and dig in the mud. The turtles eat small fish, frogs, snails, crayfish, insects, other small animals, carrion, and sometimes plants. The turtles are often seen basking in the sun on logs or rocks by ponds, lakes, or slower moving streams. They do this to warm up their body so it can get faster to catch its food and to help digest its food. It can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time. If it can't escape, the turtle will pull its legs and head inside its shell for protection. The turtle lays its 6 to 18 eggs underground each year. The temperature of the den decide whether the eggs hatch into males or females. During the winter time, the western painted turtle digs deep holes in the mud and hibernates over winter. The western painted turtle is perfectly suited to survive in its aquatic habitats.

Sources of information and to find more information: Biokids Critter Catalog, CO Div of Wildlife

Western Painted Turtle Western Painted Turtle
Awesome Adaptations: Tiger Salamander

    Tiger Salamanders have found a way to live in a cold and high climate. Most of the year snow covers the ground in the subalpine. During this time, tiger salamanders hide underground in a small chamber. The ground keeps the temperature from getting to cold. But for a few months in the summer time, it digs its way up, mates, and lays lots of eggs in the newly formed ponds. The eggs quickly turn to larvae and grow gills. They live underwater eating any insects, fish, and fresh water shrimp. As they get bigger some of the salamanders lose their gills and live on the land. They can have beautiful bright yellow and grayish-black patterns on their skin. A tiger salamander will eat any insect or animal that it can fit in its mouth. Some tiger salamander never lose their gills and stay in the water for their entire life. Tiger salamanders with gills are often called waterdogs or mudpuppies. By late August most tiger salamanders have dug themselves a new chamber deep underground waiting for the next summer.

Sources of information and to find more information: CO Herp. Society, Hogle Zoo, Bush Gardens, eNature

Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander with gills, often called a waterdog or mudpuppy
Tiger Salamander Tiger Salamander
Awesome Adaptations: Canyon Treefrog

   Amphibians like the Canyon Treefrog and some other toads perform an amazing task to stay alive in the dry semidesert shrublands. They hide underground most of the year in an underground burrow in a trance like state. When they sense the large summer thunderstorm’s rain, they wake up, climb up, quickly mate, lay eggs in the newly formed pools of water, and eat the abundant insects. The eggs change quickly to tadpoles and then toads or frogs before the pools of water disappear. A canyon treefrog's best defense is to stay totally still. Its skin can blend so well into its environment that it could be a couple of feet away and you would never see it. Just a few weeks after they come up, they may dig themselves back into the ground waiting for the next big summer thunderstorm, which may be a day, week, month, or possibly a year or two later. Imagine not eating for a whole year or two, wow!! That is one advantage of being cold-blooded.

Sources of information and to find more information: CO Herp. Society, CSU NDIS, Utah Div of Wildlife, eNature

Canyon Treefrog Canyon Treefrog