Snakes in the Sand: The Reptiles and Amphibians of Cape Cod - A Monthly Series

July 26, 2023 (Wednesday) 7:00-11:00am


The Provincelands, Dune Shack Trail - Provincetown MA


Kiara Kortis - Adult Education Coordinator, Mass Audubon Cape Cod






Nonmembers can join today during checkout and take immediate advantage of member prices.

*Please note - this series is offered through individual, drop-in sessions. Prices listed are per-session, not for the entire series.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the world of Herpetology but don't know where to start? Reptiles and amphibians are all around us, but they are often rare, elusive and seldom seen. In this series, we will dive deeper into the world of Herpetology, learn more about our local species, how they live and where they can be found.

Through monthly drop-in sessions, we will explore a variety of habitats in search of turtles, toads, frogs, salamanders, snakes and all things that slither, hop and crawl! Participants can expect a variety of hands-on activities including, dip-netting, 'mucking' in wetlands, seeking out burrows and nesting sites, and much, much more.

Through research, monitoring, observations and conservation programs, we will learn more about the life history of these elusive creatures, where to find them, and the threats they now face from climate change, to habitat loss and more. This hands-on, conservation-based approach aims to educate folks on the status of these animals, and what we can do to help ensure their resiliency on this ever-changing Penninsula we call Cape Cod.

Please note - this series is offered through individual, drop-in sessions. Prices listed are per-session, not for the entire series.

Specific locations and topics for the entire series are listed below and are offered as individual sessions:

April - Introduction to Herpetology and Vernal Pools

Wednesday, April 26th

Time: 5:00pm-8:00pm

Location: Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary

Reptiles and amphibians are all around us, but they are often rare, elusive and seldom seen. We will dive deeper into the world of Herpetology, learn more about our local species, how they live and where they can be found.

In the Spring, some Salamanders and Frogs will move in mass migrations to breed in shallow, temporary wetlands known as vernal pools. We will follow the weather conditions and find a local vernal pool perfect for this experience.

May - Saving the Spadefoot Toad

Wednesday May 24th

Time: 5pm-8pm

Location: Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary

The Eastern Spadefoot Toad is an extraordinary animal, specially adapted to live beneath the sandy soils of places like Cape Cod. Unfortunately, the Spadefoot Toad is a threatened species, and only a few isolated populations remain in Massachusetts. Learn about the amazing efforts researchers are making to restore this species to an area where they were once historically present.

June - In Search of Nesting Turtles

Wednesday June 7th

Time: 8:00am-12:00pm

Location: Meet at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, travel to other local spots

The weather is warm and turtles are on the move! Each year, nesting female turtles of all species undertake the treacherous journey to find the ideal nesting location. We will look for evidence of nesting turtles and learn more about the threats and challenges these animals face.

July - Snakes in the Sand

Wednesday, July 26th Time: 7am-11:00am Location: The Provincelands, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown MA

Snakes can be tricky to find. Many species tend prefer the damp, dark environments under rocks and surrounding wetlands. We shall instead travel to the open and endless sand dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore to look for two amazing snake species: The fast and elusive Black Racer, and the Eastern Hognose Snake - animals amazingly adapted to live within the hot, dry sands of outer Cape Cod.

August - Box Turtles and Other Woodland Herps

Wednesday August 23rd Time: 9:00am - 12:00pm Location: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet MA

Turtles are often associated with wetlands: from the snapping turtles in our ponds, the terrapins of our salt marshes and the sea turtles beyond our beaches. One species, the Eastern Box Turtle prefers the meadows and woodlands spread throughout the Cape. Using radio telemetry equipment, we will search out resident box turtles in the woodlands of Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Along the way we'll also keep an eye out for toads, salamanders and other woodland Herps!

September -The ‘Diamonds in the Marsh'

Wednesday, September 20th Time: 4:00pm-7:00pm

Location: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet MA

The Diamondback Terrapin is an incredible turtle species, perfectly adapted to live within the brackish water of our salt marsh systems. Learn more about these elusive turtles, why they are threatened, and what steps researches and volunteers are taking to help protect these animals. Through active nest monitoring, we will look for evidence of hatching and actively work to help protect these tiny turtle hatchlings.

October - End of Season Herp Explorations

Wednesday, October 18th Time: 11:00am-2:00pm Location: Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnstable MA

The days are getting shorter and the nights colder, but the extended season here on Cape Cod can lead to unlikely encounters with reptiles and amphibians late into the fall. We will spend the day reviewing what we've learned this year and searching for evidence of herps before they head underground for the winter.

November - Sea Turtles: Cold Stunning and Rescue

Wednesday, November 29th Time: 12:00pm-3:00pm Location: TBD on Cape, location given 1-3 days prior to program

While most of our local species of reptiles and amphibians have burrowed away for the winter, a most unlikely phenomenon occurs along our beaches here on Cape Cod. Sea turtles, including the critically endangered Kemp's Ridley, begin to strand during coastal storms and ‘cold-stun' along our coastline. Learn more about why these turtles strand, what we can do to help, and actively participate in a turtle rescue adventure along the beautiful coastline of Cape Cod.

What to bring: In general, please dress for the weather (layers, sunscreen, hats, good walking shoes) bring water and appropriate amounts of food for your comfort depending on the length of the outing. Rubber/muck boots will enhance your experience during certain programs. A good set of binoculars is also recommended. Other equipment such as nets and hand lenses will be provided by Mass Audubon during field trips.

Accommodations: Most of the field trips are designed to include leisurely hikes on flat but uneven terrain and sand. We will also spend some time mucking around in wetlands, marshes and woodlands. Be prepared to get wet and muddy during some programs. We will be meeting at sanctuary and off-site locations and using personal vehicles. Limited shared transportation may be available during certain programming. Please reach out to Kiara with any mobility concerns in advance so that we can make accommodations as needed.

Your program leader and naturalist will be Kiara Kortis, Adult Program Coordinator for Mass Audubon Cape Cod. Kiara has spent many years working in the field of Herpetology, including research with Diamondback Terrapins and work on the Spadefoot Toad Restoration Project. Throughout the year, Kiara will communicate any changes due to weather or otherwise to your fieldtrips so please ensure that you have provided us with a current email address that is checked on a regular basis.

Instructions and Directions:

This program will meet at The Dune Shack Trail Parking Area (

Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk several miles over uneven terrain and soft sand.

Registration is required.

Meeting Place:

The Provincelands, Dune Shack Trail - Provincetown MA
Email [email protected] for more information.