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California Reptiles & Amphibians






Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California






range map

Area covered here is marked in red.
These are the native and well-established alien herps that inhabit Coastal Southern California, which for our purposes includes the transverse and peninsular mountain ranges and the land interior to the sea, which includes the Santa Monica mountains, the San Gabriel mountains, the San Bernardino mountains, the San Jacinto mountains, and the Santa Ana mountains. This includes most of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, excluding the deserts.

Not every animal shown here is present in every part of coastal Southern California. If an animal is not found in the entire area covered here, a note is included indicating where it is found, but you should always look at the range map for each species to make sure it occurs in the area where you found it. Click on the link to see a map showing the animal's range, and to see more pictures, videos, and information that will help you with your identification. These pictures do not depict every possible variation in appearance of each species, but in some cases more than one picture is included to illustrate some of the differences.


Snakes


San Diego Gopher Snake

Pituophis catenifer annectens
Video

gopher snake gopher snake gopher snake range map
Range shown in Orange

  Adults are typically 4 to 5 ft. long.
Hatchlings are around 15 inches long.

A large, thick bodied, slow-moving snake with a head slightly wider than the neck and large rough scales.

Brown or tan with dark markings on the back and often reddish coloring.
Diurnal. Nocturnal on hot nights.

Probably the most commonly seen snake in our area.

Found in many habitats - grassland, chaparral, agricultural, riparian, woodlands, desert, from sea level to the mountains.
Eats mostly small mammals, birds, eggs.

Lays eggs June to August. Young hatch August to October.

Often confused with rattlesnakes, but the tail is long and thin with no rattle.
See here.
 
 
California Kingsnake
Lampropeltis getula californiae
  king snake king snake king snake range map
Range shown in Red
Video

king snake king snake king snake
  Adults are typically 3 to 4 ft. long.

A large, thick bodied, slow-moving snake with a head slightly wider than the neck and smooth scales.

Variable in appearance: striped, and mixed forms occur, especially near the coast, along with they typical banded form.
Diurnal and Nocturnal.

Common.

Found in a wide range of habitats:
forest, woodland, chaparral, grassland, wetlands, agricultural land, deserts, brushy suburban areas, from sea level to mountains.
Eats small mammals, lizards, snakes (including rattlesnakes) eggs, frogs, birds, and large invertebrates.

Lays eggs May to August.

 

 


 
California Striped Racer
Masticophis (Coluber) lateralis lateralis
Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
Adults are typically 3 to 4 feet long.

A slender very fast-moving snake with large head and eyes and smooth scales.

Dark brown or grey with one pale stripe on each side. No stripe on the back.

Diurnal and conspicuous.

Common.

Found in a variety of open areas including canyons, rocky hillsides, chaparral, open woodlands, pond edges and stream courses from sea level to the mountains.
Eats small mammals, lizards, frogs, and snakes

.Lays eggs in late spring and early summer. Eggs hatch in late summer and fall.


 
Red Coachwhip
Masticophis (Coluber) flagellum piceus
Video
snake snake snake
Range shown in Red


Adults are 3 to 8 feet in length.

A long slender, fast-moving snake with a large head and eyes and large rough scales.

Variable in appearance: brown, tan, or reddish, with black on the head, the neck, and the front part of the body, and light color giving it a banded pattern.
Diurnal.

Common and conspicuous.

Found in open areas of grassland, chaparral, scrubland where vegetation is not dense.
Eats small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, and amphibians.

Lays eggs in early summer. Eggs hatch in late summer and fall.


 
Western Yellow-bellied Racer
Coluber constrictor mormon
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
  Adults are typically 2 to 3 feet long. Hatchlings are 8 to 11 inches long.

A long slender fast-moving snake with a large head and eyes.

Brown, greenish, or grey without markings. Young are brown with dark brown markings.
Diurnal.

Not very common in our area. Common elsewhere where it occurs.

Found in open sunny areas including meadows, grassland, chaparral, open woodlands, and riparian areas, in arid and moist areas. Not found at very high elevations.
Eats lizards, small mammals, birds, snakes, eggs, frogs, and insects.

Lays eggs in early summer. Young hatch in late summer and fall.
 
 
Coast Patch-nosed Snake
Salvadora hexalepis virgultea
  snake snake snake
Range shown in Orange
  Adults are typically 2 - 3 feet long.

A slender, fast-moving snake with large eyes and smooth scales.

Gray or brown with a broad pale stripe down the middle of the back and a pale underside. No stripes on the sides.
Diurnal.

Conspicuous, but uncommon.

Found in semi-arid brushy areas and chaparral.
Eats mostly lizards plus small mammals, birds and amphibians.

Lays eggs probably May to August which hatch in late summer and fall.
     
California Glossy Snake
Arizona elegans occidentalis

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Green
  Adults are typically 3 to 4 feet long.

A thick slow-moving snake with smooth glossy scales.

Tan or light brown with dark blotches and a pale underside.

Nocturnal.

Uncommon in our area.

Found in open areas including arid scrub, grasslands, chaparral, and rocky washes.
Eats mostly lizards, plus small snakes, birds, and mammals.

Lays eggs in June and July which hatch in late summer, early fall.

 

 
 
San Diego Nightsnake
Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha (torquata) klauberi
  snake
snake snake range map
Range shown in Violet
  Most adults are about a foot long, rarely over 16 inches. Hatchlings are abpit 7 inches long.

A small slender snake with a narrow head and smooth scales.

Light gray, light brown, beige, tan, or cream in color with dark brown or gray blotches on the backs and sides and a dark band on the neck and another through the eyes.
Nocturnal.

Secretive and not often seen.

Found in a variety of habitats, including chaparral, suburban lots and gardens, meadows and grassland, from sea level into the mountains.
Eats mostly lizards and their eggs, plus small snakes, amphibians, and other small vertebrates.

Lays eggs from April to September.
 
 
California Mountain Kingsnake
Lampropeltis zonata
  snake snake snake range map
Two subspecies are found:
San Diego Mountain Kingsnake -
Range shown in Purple
San Bernardino Mountain Kingsnake -
Range shown in Blue
       
 


Baja California Coachwhip
Masticophis (Coluber) fuliginosus
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Coastal Rosy Boa
Lichanura trivergata roseofusca

  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Green
       
 
 
Southern Rubber Boa
Charina umbratica
  snake snake snake
Range shown in Green
       
 
 
California Red-sided Gartersnake
Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Two-striped Gartersnake
Thamnophis hammondii
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Mountain Gartersnake
Thamnophis elegans elegans
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake
Diadophis punctatus modestus
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Light Blue
       
         
San Diego Ring-necked Snake
Diadophis punctatus similis
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Dark Blue
     
 
 
Long-nosed Snake
Rhinocheilus lecontei

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       

   
Western Black-headed Snake
Tantilla planiceps

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Southwestern Threadsnake (or Blind Snake)
Leptotyphlops humilis humilis

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
     
Baja California Lyresnake
Trimorphodon biscutatus lyrophanes

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Crotalus oreganus helleri
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Green


Video
snake snake snake
      Venomous and Possibly Dangerous  


 
Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Crotalus ruber

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
 
 
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake
Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus

Video
snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       


 
Yellow-bellied Sea Snake
Pelamis platurus
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
     
Southern Watersnake
Nerodia fasciata
  snake snake snake range map
Range shown in Red
       
Lizards


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map

Great Basin Fence Lizard
Sceloporus occidentalis longipes

Diurnal. The most common lizard in the area, often found in suburban yards.
Range shown in Orange
  lizard lizard lizard range map
  San Diego Alligator Lizard
Elgaria multicarinata webbii

Diurnal and Common. Often found in yards and gardens in suburban areas.
Range shown in Green


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  Western Side-blotched Lizard
Uta stansburiana elegans

Diurnal. Very common and conspicuous where it occurs.
Range shown in Red


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  California Legless Lizard
Anniella pulchra


Common but secretive. Often found in gardens and leaf litter.
Range shown in Red


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map

Blainville's (Coast) Horned Lizard
Phrynosoma blainvillii

Diurnal. Locally common in undeveloped areas.
Range shown in Red


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  San Diego Banded Gecko
Coleonlyx variegatus abbotti

Nocturnal. Uncommon.
Range shown in Green


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  Granite Night Lizard
Xantusia henshawi

Nocturnal and not often seen. Found mostly around large rock outcrops
Range shown in Red


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  Southern Sagebrush Lizard
Sceloporus graciosus vandenburgianus

Diurnal. Found only at higher elevations in the transverse and peninsular mountains
Range shown in Orange


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  Coastal Whiptail
Aspidoscelis tigris stejnegeri

Diurnal. Common where it occurs.
Range shown in Green


Video
lizard lizard lizard range map
  Belding's Orange-throated Whiptail
Aspidoscelis hyperythra beldingi

Diurnal. Common where it occurs.
Range shown in Red
  Granite Spiny Lizard Male Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard range map
  Granite Spiny Lizard
Sceloporus orcutti

Diurnal - Common where Found - mostly around large rock outcrops.
Range shown in Red
  lizard lizard lizard range map
  Western Red-tailed Skink
Plestiodon "gilberti" rubricaudatus

Diurnal but secretive and not often seen.
Range shown in Red


Video
lizard lizard range map
  Skilton's Skink
Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus

Found in the Northern part of coastal Southern California.
Diurnal and common but secretive.
Range shown in Red
  lizard lizard lizard range map


Coronado Skink
Plestiodon skiltonianus interparietalis

Found in the Southern part of coastal Southern California.
Diurnal and common but secretive.
Range shown in Green
  lizard lizard lizard range map

Mediterranean House Gecko
Hemidactylus turcicus

Not Native and Uncommon. Usually seen on walls of buildings.

Range shown in Red
Turtles
  turtle turtle turtle range map

Southern Pacific Pond Turtle
Actinemys marmorata pallida
Range shown in Green (and yellow)


Video
turtle turtle turtle range map
  Red-eared Slider
Trachemys scripta elegans

Not Native but Very Common.
Range shown in Red


Video
turtle turtle turtle range map
  Western Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta bellii

Not Native
Range shown in Red
  turtle turtle turtle range map

Texas Spiny Softshell
Apalone spinifera emoryi

Not Native
Range shown in Red


Video
turtle turtle turtle range map
  Green Sea Turtle
Chelonia mydas

Uncommon, but found regularly in San Diego Bay and in the mouth of the San Gabiel River.
Approximate spots where Green Sea Turtles have been recorded are shown in Red
  turtle turtle turtle range map
  Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Caretta caretta

Rare - occasionally found along the coast.
Approximate spots where Loggerhead Sea Turtles have been recorded are shown in Red
  Leatherback on beach covering her eggs Leatherback on beach covering her eggs Hatchling leatherback range map
  Leatherback Sea Turtle
Dermochelys coriacea

Rare - occasionally found along the coast
.
Approximate spots where Leatherback Sea Turtles have been recorded are shown in Red
  turtle turtle turtle range map
  Pacific Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata bissa

Very Rare.
Approximate spots where Pacific Hawksbill Sea Turtles have been recorded are shown in Red


Video
turtle turtle turtle range map
  Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Lepidochelys olivacea

Rare - occasionally found along the coast.




Approximate spots where Olive Ridley  Sea Turtles have been recorded are shown in Red
Frogs and Toads
speaker icon

Call
california toad california toad california toad range map


Video

California Toad
Bufo boreas halophilus

Common - Diurnal and Nocturnal.
Range shown in Red
speaker icon

Call
frog picture arroyo toad arroyo toad range map


Video
  Arroyo Toad
Bufo californicus

Mostly Nocturnal. Uncommon due to rare habitat.
Range shown in Red
  frog picture frog range map
speaker icon

Call

Baja California Treefrog
Pseudacris hypochondriaca hypochondriaca

Probably the most commonly seen frog in our area.
Nocturnal but seen in daylight, too.  Found in most wetland areas.
Range shown in Red
speaker icon

Call
frog frog frog range map


Video


California Treefrog
Pseudacris cadaverina

Diurnal and Nocturnal. Common where it occurs in rocky creeks.
Range shown in Red
speaker icon

Call
frog frog frog range map


Video
  California Red-legged Frog
Rana draytonii

Rare and almost extinct in our area.
Range shown in Green


Call
frog frog frog range map
  Southern Leopard Frog
Rana sphenocephala

Not Native and Rare - found near Chino only
Range shown in Red




Video
frog frog frog
  Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog
Rana muscosa

Diurnal. Rare and almost extinct.
Found only in mountain creeks in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains.
Range shown in Red
speaker icon

Call
frog picture frog frog range map


Video

American Bullfrog
Rana catesbeiana

Not native but common in most wetland areas. Diurnal and Nocturnal.
Range shown in Red
speaker icon

Call
frog picture frog frog range map


Video

Western Spadefoot
Spea hammondii

Nocturnal and not often seen.
Range shown in Red
  frog picture  range map
speaker icon

Call
  African Clawed Frog
Xenopus laevis

Not Native. Nocturnal and rarely seen outside of water.

Range shown in Red
Salamanders


Video
salamander salamander salamander range map

Coast Range Newt
Taricha torosa torosa

Common where it occurs.and active in daylight.
Poisonous - Dangerous if Ingested
Range shown in Red
  salamander salamander salamander
  Monterey Ensatina
Ensatina eschscholtzii eschscholtzii

Nocturnal. Common in moist woodland areas.
Range shown in Purple
  salamander salamander salamander range map
  Large-blotched Ensatina
Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi

Nocturnal. Found only in the Peninsular Mountains.
Range shown in Dark Blue


Video
salamander salamander salamander range map

Arboreal Salamander
Aneides lugubris

Nocturnal and Uncommon in our area.
Range shown in Red
  salamander salamander salamander range map
  Garden Slender Salamander
Batrachoseps major major

Nocturnal and Common. Often found in yards and gardens.
Range shown in Red
  salamander salamander salamander range map
  Black-bellied Slender Salamander
Batrachoseps nigriventris

Nocturnal and Uncommon.
Found only in the San Gabriel, Santa Monica, and Santa Ana Mountains.
Range shown in Red
  salamander salamander range map
  San Gabriel Mountains Slender Salamander
Batrachoseps gabrieli


Nocturnal and Rare. Found only in isolated areas of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Range shown in Red


Video
salamander salamander salamander range map

Barred Tiger Salamander
Ambystoma mavortium mavortium

Nocturnal. Not Native and secretive, but sometimes seen active on the surface on rainy nights.





Some spots where Tiger Salamanders have been recorded shown in Red


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