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Animals Abundant for 33rd Annual Herpetological Survey


                                               -  For Immediate Release   (14 May 2009)   


            Dozens of students and adults headed across the prairie, through streams, and up and down the hills turning rocks and keeping their eyes open in hopes of finding some of the most misunderstood animals on our planet.  They were successful!  More than 400 individual specimens representing 34 species of amphibians, reptiles, and turtles were collected by the participants of the 33rd Annual Survey of the Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Southern Sumner County, Kansas between 7 – 9 May 2009.

            The survey, one of the longest continually running annual surveys of its kind in the country, is designed to give a variety of people a hands on experience in science.  The animals collected are identified, sometimes photographed, and information about them recorded for a variety of scientific publications.  Often important biological finds have been made during the event, and recent surveys have been no exception.  Gray Treefrogs, not occurring in the county twenty years ago, have now been documented all across the county and even into eastern Harper County.  Future more detailed studies may determine just why these small amphibians are rapidly expanding their range, and members of these surveys can feel good about being an important part of the early research.

            Those participating this year included a group of sixteen middle and high school students from the Seaman School District located near Topeka as well as a large number of elementary, middle, and high school students from the Caldwell and South Haven areas of Kansas and the Medford, Oklahoma area.  Other interested persons from the Argonia, Wellington, and Drury area also participated in one or more of the field trips. Special guests this year were Joe and Suzanne Collins of the Center for North American Herpetology.  The Collins’ participated in the Saturday morning field trip and assisted with the identification of some of the many animals that were found.

            More information along with many photos of this and past field trips can be found by following related links at


Article written by Larry L. Miller of Wakarusa, KS with data provided by a variety of other participants of the 2009 survey.  Contact Larry L. Miller at or 785-836-2119 with questions and comments.


Click on this text to read a TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL article about the 33rd Annual Survey of the Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Sumner County, Kansas.



Click here to view more than 150 images from the survey as a slide show as well as place orders for photos as well as custom t-shrits and other items.


The 33rd Annual Southern Sumner County, Kansas

Herpetological Survey


7-9 May 2009  (Survey Boundaries):  West from the point where the Kansas Turnpike enters Oklahoma to the Harper County line.  North from the Harper County line four miles and then east to the Kansas Turnpike and south back to the Oklahoma line .  The majority of the survey took place between Drury, Kansas on the east and one mile west of Caldwell, Kansas on the west within three miles of the Oklahoma line.


Methods of collection included rock turning, road cruising, searching at old farm sites, searching around shallow pools at night, and walking through pasture land. 


The temperature during the three days ranged from the 60’s to the 80’s F. with some rain early Friday morning.  There had been several inches of rain during the week before the survey.


Those participating in one or more of the field trips and/or providing specimens during the event included: Troy Johnson, Gail Feely, Sandy Ray, Connie Ray, Maci Dvorak, Audrey Sprague, Cheryl Warner, Allison Castello, Layne Castello, Matthew Clark, Roberta Clark, Destiny Clark, Kolten Koerner, Robyn Kelley, Marci Bristor, Cooper Bristor, Dawson Bristor, Quinn Ward, Vicki Ward, Quinci Ward, Brae Halling, Derrick Kendrick, Kelsi Ward, Dalton Whaley, Weigand Guerra, Carli Ward, Christian Ward, Jaryn Halling,  Cory Ward, Darin Ward, Colten Ward, Tylyn Ward, Nina Ward, Troy Brooke,  Matthew Brooke, Justin Brooke, Brett Thomas, Kelsi Ward, Dalton Whaley, Tomas Baca, Lasse Randa-Boldt, Larry L. Miller, Joseph T. Collins, Suzanne L. Collins, Jayden Wodke, Kate Ruoff, Rachel Hutchings, Abbey Harrison Hailey Tucker, Anna Hutchison, Cindy Cummings, Devin Wittmaier, Arren Todack, Caitlyn Priddy, Garrett Greenwood, Krista Akers, Areli Bermudez, Melinda McNish, Tanner Foster, Lindsey Jones, Hannah Poort, Emily Struttman, Stan Williams 


Verified by:  Larry L. Miller (Wakarusa, Kansas), Cindy Cummings (Topeka, Kansas), and Joseph T. Collins (Lawrence, Kansas)


Animals found and identified with 100% certainty.  Note this list does not include frogs that were heard calling or a number of other animals that were only observed for a very short time at a distance and could not be identified with absolute certainty.


Plains Spadefoot Toad                                                            04

Great Plains Toad                                                                        09

Woodhouse’s Toad                                                                        03

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog                                                            21

Spotted Chorus Frog                                                            07

Gray Treefrog                                                                        04

Plains Leopard Frog                                                                        04

Bullfrog                                                                                    02

Plains Narrowmouth Toad                                                            26

Common Snapping Turtle                                                            01

Ornate Box Turtle                                                                        04

Northern Painted Turtle                                                            04

Slider                                                                                                02

Lesser Earless Lizard                                                            21

Prairie Lizard                                                                        14

Texas Horned Lizard                                                            05

Southern Prairie Skink                                                            06

Six-lined Racerunner                                                            82

Eastern Racer                                                                        01

Prairie Kingsnake                                                                        02

Common Kingsnake                                                                        06

Milk Snake                                                                                    01

Coachwhip                                                                                    04

Bullsnake                                                                                    02

Eastern Rat Snake                                                                        01

Ground Snake                                                                        80

Plains Blackhead Snake                                                            17

Ringneck Snake                                                                        54

Plainbelly Water Snake                                                            01

Diamondback Water Snake                                                            03

Northern Water Snake                                                            02

Brown Snake                                                                                    03

Western Ribbon Snake                                                            07

Common Garter Snake                                                            02


Total Individuals:                                                                         405


Total Species:                                                                         34



Note:  Large numbers of Gray Treefrogs (several dozen) were heard calling on Wednesday evening (6 May 2009) and early Thursday morning (7 May 2009) from the Caldwell area west to Harper County.  Two adult Gray Treefrogs were collected two miles west of the Sumner and Harper line in Harper County to establish the new western limit to their range and the first known specimens to be collected from Harper County.  Three others were collected about three miles west of Caldwell in Sumner County  Other Gray Treefrogs were heard calling at different locations in southern Sumner County on Friday evening (8 May 2009) and one was collected west of Drury, Kansas near Bluff Creek.  Other species of frogs heard calling between 7-9 May 2009 in southern Sumner County included Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs, Spotted Chorus Frogs, and Plains Leopard Frogs.