There are so many wild species that call Hudson Gardens home! One of our guests and visitors’ favorite wildlife species can be found basking in the sun on fallen logs, taking a dip in the lake or even sometimes just walking down the trails. Hudson Gardens is home to many species of turtles including the Western Painted Turtle, Colorado’s state reptile and the common Snapping Turtle. While the Western Painted turtle’s diet consists primarily of plants, and small animals such, as fish and aquatic insects, its larger and more prehistoric looking cousin, the common Snapping Turtle, sits at the top of the aquatic animal food chain at Hudson Gardens. Common Snapping Turtles, enjoy a diet of plants, insects, small mammals, snakes and two of our year-round resident species that lurk in the waters of Hudson Gardens, frogs, and crayfish.

A non-native species to Colorado that has now become an invasive species in Colorado, the American Bull frog can be found in almost everybody of water at Hudson Gardens. Best known for their loud and resounding croaks, bull frogs can take up to three years to completely mature from egg to tadpole and finally frog. Exceedingly large bull frog tadpoles with tails and legs (over 1-2” in size), can be found regularly in the Water Gardens and Bob’s Pond.

The Bull Frog’s slightly smaller cousin, the Northern Leopard Frog, can also be found enjoying the aquatic features at Hudson Gardens. Northern Leopard Frogs can be found with multiple different color variations, with the most common varieties being the green and brown morphs. Unlike the Bull Frog, the Northern Leopard Frog splits its seasons between water and land, moving to grassy areas and lawns in the summer. With the green and brown coloring, Northern Leopard Frogs can easily camouflage to match their environment so watch where you step in the summer months!

Crayfish (or Crawdads) are native to Colorado and can be found in the lake and ponds of Hudson Gardens. Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans and relatives to lobsters. Crayfish are omnivores and are often considered scavengers as they will eat everything from fish, plankton, insects, algae or other detritus that they find in the water.

Next time you’re in the Gardens, take a minute and see if you can spot any of our wildlife that “lies beneath”!

All photos ©Mike Gardinier 2023, A Hudson Gardens Volunteer.