Herping in the Cache River Watershed

 “Herping” is the slang term for looking for reptiles and amphibians. It’s derived from Herpetology – the study of reptiles and amphibians. The Cache River watershed is home to a wonderful variety of variety of reptiles and amphibians. A number of local species are classed as State Threatened or Endangered.

WARNING! Collecting reptiles or amphibians (or harming them in any way) is strictly prohibited in the Cache River wetlands, and these laws are stringently enforced. You may look and listen all you want, but the only thing you may take is photographs. Visitors are encouraged to view, photograph and enjoy the “herps” of the Cache in a herp friendly manner. Remember if turning logs or rocks to look for herps to always return them as close as possible to their original positions. This preserves the microhabitat beneath. For more details on Illinois herping laws click here .


Illinois Chorus Frog

Illinois Chorus Frog. Photo:Tony Gerard

Frogging the Cache

Each year volunteers conduct Frog and Toad Surveys throughout the watershed. This involves driving a preset route and listening and identifying frogs and toads heard calling at preset locations. New volunteers are always welcome, contact the Wetlands Visitor Center for more information.

Opportunities to hear some of the unique frogs native to the Cache are available to the visitor at certain times of the year. The state threatened Illinois Chorus Frog can be heard calling in the fields on the western side of Horseshoe Lake in the very early spring. At about this same time Crawfish frogs, Spring Peepers and Upland Chorus frogs can be heard at The Grassy Slough overlook. Later in the spring the state threatened Bird Voiced Treefrog can be heard along the Heron Pond Trail.

Visit our Frog and Toad Calls page to listen to the unique calls of each species that occurs in the Cache.

Turtles in the Cache

Excellent turtle photography opportunities are found in some areas of the Cache. One of the best is at Mermet Waterfowl Refuge. Turtles have become somewhat accustom to the vehicle traffic around the refuge an excellent photos can be taken from a vehicle with a telephoto lens. Red ear sliders, eastern painted turtles, musk turtles and common snapping turtles are all rather common. Spiny Softshell turtles often bask on the levee and roadway edges, but they are much more wary.

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