Amphibians & Reptiles

The slow-moving Illinois River, which twists 273 miles through the heart of the state before joining the Mississippi River 14 miles upstream from Alton, has shown an improved fishery since the late 1970’s. The Illinois River is home to following fish species…

White Crappie
Black Crappie
Green Sunfish
White Bass
Yellow Bass
Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Freshwater Drum
Channel Catfish
Black Bullhead
Yellow Bullhead
Brown Bullhead


Twenty species of salamanders occur in Illinois. Because of their secretive and mainly nocturnal habits, they are observed less often than our state’s other amphibians, the frogs and toads. Terrestrial salamanders live in forests in underground burrows, in or under rotting logs, under rocks and leaves, and around springs and streams. They venture out of these places only at night or following heavy rainfall. Larvae and aquatic adults live in rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, swamps, and ditches. Salamanders are predators of earthworms, snails, and invertebrates. A few salamanders also eat small vertebrates, including other salamanders. In turn, they are consumed by a variety of fishes, small mammals, birds, snakes, and invertebrates. Terrestrial salamanders use their thin skin for respiration, which requires that they live in moist surroundings. The chief conservation concerns for Illinois salamanders are habitat fragmentation and habitat loss.

Thirty-nine species of snakes inhabit Illinois, dwelling in forests, grasslands, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and sloughs. Some species are quite common, while others are very rare. These reptiles are solitary predators that eat a variety of prey. Snakes have interesting structural features including the Jacobon’s organ, which is used to detect odors. They lack legs, ear opening, and eyelids. Four species of Ililnois snakes, the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), and the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), are venomous. The chief conservation concerns for Illinois snakes are habitat alteration and loss, and over-exploitation for the pet trade. Misinformation, lack of information, and irrational fears have also affected snake populations.

Seventeen turtle species inhabit Illinois. Most east plant, insects, worms, and mollusks, but others scavenge on dead fish. They dwell in shallow, weedy parts of river backwaters as well as in ponds and lakes.

Frogs & Toads
Twenty-two species of frogs and toads inhabit Illinois. Most eat insects, earthworms and other invertabrates, but others are known to eat small crayfish, amphibians, and reptiles. Most frogs &  toads live underground or in tree trunks and branches in wooded areas and in rock outcroppings. They generally reproduce in the springtime in wetlands, flooded fields and almost any temporary body of water. For further information check out: