Installing Cover boards for Reptiles

Photo © Tristan Schramer

Reptiles generally prefer drier conditions. Placing corrugated tin is a better choice than hardwood boards, as the material will create hot, dry conditions in the soil. However, if you do not have access to tin, untreated hardwood boards will suffice. Any wood that has been treated or has glues, including particleboard or plywood, is not recommended. These products can be made with contaminants that are toxic to the wildlife you are trying to attract. If using plywood, consider using formaldehyde-free plywood.

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard  (Sceloporus jarrovii)

Photo © wplynn

Place the tin or hardwood board directly on top of a sandy surface in your backyard, or in an area that gets ample solar gain. These cover boards can be placed flat on the ground. Like amphibians, it takes time for reptiles to find the new feature you’ve added. Allow for several weeks before you check on the status of your cover board.

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

Photo © Sasha Azevedo

In general, you’ll want to place cover boards in areas in your yard that are not well traveled or visited and safe distances away from roads. These animals are somewhat skittish and will avoid areas that frequently experience disturbances. When checking for the presence of animals under your cover board, gently lift the board a few inches at a time off the ground at a time. Don’t be surprised if a few critters quickly scurrying away. The slower you lift, the more likely you are to catch a glimpse of who’s moved in under your cover board.

Remember to never handle reptiles unless you are confident in the species and their ecology. Admiring them from afar is your best bet at keeping them and you safe.

Add a cover board to your Map


Photo ©

1. Sign into Habitat Network and navigate to your map via the Site Explorer. To add a cover board to your map, use the Tool Shed’s third step to add an object.
2. The objects bar will appear in the mapping area, scroll through the list of objects until you find “cover board.”
3. Click on the image of a cover board and place it on the map where the cover board is located. The vertices that appear allow you to size the image to represent the size of the cover board.
4. After you have added a cover board to your map, tell us about it. Use the “Info” button in the site overview panel to tell us about the cover board.


Photo ©

5. Once you are inside the info window, the panel on the left will help you navigate through the data entering process. The Basic Information and Characteristics tab allow you to enter and answer important questions regarding the cover board. By entering and answering these questions you are providing important data for scientist to use.

Log in with your Cornell Citizen Science Username and Password to leave a comment or ask a question

(This is the same username you use to sign-in to eBird, YardMap, Celebrate Urban Birds, FeederWatch, NestWatch, Maccaulay Library)