Snakes, Frogs and Salamanders That Are Illegal To Kill In Iowa
Just because an animal isn't cute and cuddly, doesn't mean you can kill it. In fact, just because an animal isn't on the endangered list it doesn't mean it's legal to kill.
There are many animals that have hunting seasons like deer, birds etc., which are protected in other times of the year. However these snakes, frogs and salamanders are illegal to kill at all times.
Let's start with the snakes. Iowa has 30 species of snakes ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet. According to the DNR:
Iowa has only four venomous snakes, and their bites are rarely fatal if treated. The massasauga and timber rattlesnakes are rare, but found in eastern and southern Iowa. The prairie rattlesnake and copperhead are even rarer in our state. Only garter snakes can be legally caught, collected or killed in all counties. Timber rattlesnakes are protected in 14 of Iowa’s 99 counties, excluding within 50 yards of an actively occupied residence. All other Iowa snakes are protected in all counties, and cannot legally be collected (without a scientific collector’s permit) or killed.
Next up is frogs. While most common frogs can be caught and are not protected, the Crayfish Frog is endangered and can't be collected.
These frogs have not been seen in Iowa for years, but populations in neighboring states are found primarily in floodplains or near bodies of water, living in old crayfish burrows to hide outside of breeding season.
Over the winter, they allow themselves to freeze into these shallow burrows, only emerging for a short period of time when the weather warms up. These frogs are approximately 3 inches long and very secretive, although they are sometimes mistaken for leopard frogs if seen.
Finally the Iowa salamander. It's not a green lizard selling you insurance. It's the Mudpuppy.
Formerly listed as endangered, they are now considered threatened in Iowa, and cannot legally be collected or killed. Mudpuppies are easily identifiable based on the long, feathery gills on the sides of their heads, extreme sliminess, and a flattened, paddle-like body.
So there you go. As you social distance and explore wilderness this summer, watch out for these protected animals. Also watch out for Bears. Just because...yeah, it's a bear.