Herps that may be taken according to the current regulations:
|Changes From Last Year
|An Interpretation of which Herps may not be taken:
|Restricted Species Laws
|Herping Regulations From
Californians Turn in
Poachers & Polluters
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages anyone who witnesses or is aware of a poaching or polluting violation to call
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to report the violation. Callers can remain anonymous and may receive a cash award.
Nothing you read here should be considered to be legal advice or an interpretation of local, state, or federal laws.
This is only intended to be a summarized description of the regulations regarding California's reptiles and amphibians. Some of the information contained here, including links, may have changed. Consult the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) (Formerly the California Department of Fish and Game - CDFG) website for the most recent and most complete information.
The information below pertains to private hunting and collecting of native reptiles and amphibians in California. It does not pertain to selling or trading native or non-native reptiles and amphibians. For information regarding captive propagation of native reptiles go to the CDFW website and read the Native Reptile Captive Propagation Laws and Regulations pdf.
|Comments and Opinions
Do You Need a License Just to Photograph Herps?
Most field herpers are not content just to watch the herps they find. They want to catch herps even if they plan to release them. Sometimes that is the only way to identify what you see. Fish and Game (now Fish and Wildlife) officers have told me that all herpers need a license if they plan to pick up or handle a herp for any reason, including photography, even though they don't plan to collect it. The reason they give makes sense: if you have an animal in your possession, even if it's only temporarily, and a law enforcement officer sees you with the animal in your possession, it can appear to the officer that you are collecting the animal. If you don't have a license, it will be up to you to convince the officer that your intension was to release the animal where it was found. Most people who are collecting an animal illegally will always lie and tell an officer that they were not going to keep it, that they are just taking pictures of it, and this makes it difficult for the officer to determine if you are also lying.
You surely don't need a license to photograph or watch herps that you encounter without actively hunting for, such as a snake you find crossing a road, or frogs you see in a pond, or lizards basking on rocks. But do you need a license to pursue herps using methods such as road cruising, flipping rocks and boards, shining lights at night, or just walking around and looking, even if you don't plan to handle them? it is reasonable to assume that you do not need a license if you do not intend to handle herps you search for. However, you are required by law to have a license to "take" any herp: "A current California Freshwater Sport Fishing License is needed by any resident or non-resident 16 years of age or older to take, or collect, reptiles and amphibians in California". And the CDFW definition of "take" is this: Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans or invertebrates or attempting to do so. By my interpretaion (and I'm not a lawyer) you do need a license to search for (hunt or pursue) reptiles and amphibians. I have seen Fish and Game officers checking car occupants for licenses in areas where there are a lot cars driving at night looking for snakes, but I don't know whether or not they fined anyone who says they're looking for herps but not collecting them (or only looking for rattlesnakes, invertebrates, owls, or any other nocturnal creatures for which no license is necessary.) Whether or not your activities are observation only or are "pursuit" or "collecting" is subject to the interpretation of each enforcement officer, should one happen to see you interacting with a herp. I doubt that one would ticket you unless you are in possession of an animal, but it looks like they do have that option.
Since the price of a license for California residents is relatively cheap, my recommendaion is that you play it safe and always buy a license if you intend to search for herps whether or not you intend to catch or collect them, even if you plan to release them where they were found. Then you can concentrate on herping instead of worrying about the interpretation of confusing legal questions. I am willing to bet that almost nobody who herps will agree that this is reasonable. Instead, they will argue how absurd and unfair it is to require someone who only wants to look for and photograph herps without touching them to pay for that privilege. And I would not disagree with them. Many also would argue that a license should not be necessary to catch, photograph, and release herps, but I have explained the reasons for this need already.
So why are herps treated so differently from birds and mammals? Birders don't need a license to hunt for birds, neither do whale watchers, or any other wildlife watchers, and they are all "pursuing" wildlife. But there is no definition of "take" that includes "hunt" and "pursue" that I can find in any of the hunting regulations applying to any type of game and non-game birds or mammals. These extra restrictions on pursuing herps might be derived at least partly by the false stigma long associated with herpers. Due to constant reports in the press of herp smuggling and illegal trafficing in herps, it is generally assumed that anyone pursuing or possessing a herp is doing so in order to collect it whether legally or not, and that most herps are in danger of disappearing due to over-collection. These common misconceptions are not always true.
Some herpers have lobbied for a herp stamp or a herping license so that the state can know how many licenses are purchased for the collection (or photographing) of herps. Until such a system is established, the CDFW has no way of knowing how many licenses they are selling to herpers so they can allocate some funding to herp-related issues. (I'm not sure what those would be exactly, but it could be spending more money on research and herp policies. It might also fund more enforcement agents out in the field.) A stamp or special license would also allow some reporting of how many herps are collected. As it is now, the CDFW has no way of knowing how many animals are taken. Knowing that could help to change how they make their allowable take list.
A license is not needed to collect rattlesnakes. This is probably for the benefit of someone who feels that they need to kill a rattlesnake on their property in order to protect themself, their family, or their animals. This might seem to encourage the unnecessary killing of rattlesnakes, however these people are most likely unaware that they would need a license to kill a snake anyway.
The CDFW has also just added rattlesnakes to the list of collectible species, stating that bag and possession limits do apply, except for one species which is protecting from all collection.
Differences in Common and Scientific Names from those used here
Be aware that the names used by CaliforniaHerps.com and by other web sites and field guides sometimes differ from those used by the CDFW. This means, that in order to follow the law, you should be familiar with the names used by the CDFW and consult the CDFW with any questions.
(This has become a real problem everywhere with all of the re-classifications and name changes, especially with the frogs and toads.) The names used by the CDFW do not always reflect recent name changes for some species, and this may cause confusion regarding which animals can be taken, however they have updated their nomenclature for 2013 making it conform more closely to others.
|The CDFW website has a specific link to the regulations regarding amphibians, and another for the regulations regarding reptiles. You can also download a .pdf file of the complete regulations good for 3/1/14 to 2/28/15.
Regulations regarding Amphibians.
Regulations regarding Reptiles.
These links should direct you to the most current California state regulations. If this page is not updated by the time these regulations expire, go to the CDFW web site to find the correct information.
|Some Basic Rules and Regulations (pertaining to California's native reptiles and amphibians)
A current California Freshwater Sport Fishing License is needed by any resident or non-resident 16 years of age or older to take, or collect, reptiles and amphibians in California.
The fees for the annual license for 2013 (valid until 12/31/13) have increased to $45.93 for residents and $123.38 for non-residents. You can usually buy 3 or 10-day licenses for a lower price.
There are other licenses for low income Native Americans, disabled veterans, low income seniors, and mobility impaired, blind or developmentally disableds, which you can read about here.
Definition of "Bag and Possession Limit"
1.17. BAG AND POSSESSION LIMIT
No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named in these regulations may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved. Exceptions: See Sections 7.00, 7.50(a), 27.60(c), and 195, Title 14, CCR.
Definition of "Bullfrog"
Includes only Rana catesbeiana.
Definition of "Take"
Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans or invertebrates or attempting to do so.
Definition of "Native Reptiles and Amphibians"
1.67. NATIVE REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS.
Native reptiles and amphibians are those subspecies, and species, including all color phases, of the classes Reptilia and Amphibia indigenous to California. This definition includes all specimens regardless of their origin even if they were produced in captivity..
Possession and Display of License
As of March 1, 2010, herpers no longer have to display their sport fishing license on their outer clothing above the waist. However, their sport fishing license must still be in their immediate possession.
(See the California Fish and Game Commission web site for exceptions, such as scientific collecting permits.)
Many species of California reptiles and amphibians cannot be collected without special permits. You are responsible for knowing the current regulations regarding reptiles and amphibians if you plan to catch or collect them. Consult the California Fish and Wildlife Department if you have any questions about this. Be aware that there are also specific regulations governing properties such as regional, county, state, and national parks, and wildlife preserves. A valid fishing license may not give you permission to catch or collect herps in these areas.
From Native Reptile Captive Propagation Laws and Regulations (pdf file)
California Code of Regulations, Title 14 Excerpts
§40. General Provisions Relating to Native Reptiles and Amphibians.
(a) General Prohibition It is unlawful to capture, collect, intentionally kill or injure, possess, purchase, propagate, sell, transport, import or export any native reptile or amphibian, or part thereof, except as provided in this chapter, Chapter 2 of this subdivision relating to sportfishing and frogging, sections 650, 670.7, or 783 of these regulations, or as otherwise provided in the Fish and Game Code or these regulations.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “intentionally kill or injure” does not include death or injury that occurs incidental to an otherwise lawful activity. This section does not prohibit the capture, temporary collection or temporary possession of native reptiles and amphibians done to avoid mortality or injury in connection with such activities. The live capture and release of native reptiles and amphibians done to avoid such death or injury may occur only with the department’s written approval.
(c) Except for dried or processed reptile skins, it is unlawful to display, in any place of business where pets or other animals are sold, native reptiles or amphibians which cannot lawfully be sold.
(d) Progeny resulting from pregnant native reptiles or amphibians collected from the wild must be transferred to another person or to a scientific or educational institution within 45 days of birth or hatching. Persons receiving such progeny shall comply with the bag and possession limits specified in sections 5.05 and 5.60.
(e) Reptiles or amphibians which have been in captivity, including wild-caught and captively-bred individuals or offspring, shall not be released into the wild without the written approval of the department.
|2013-2014 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations Effective March 1, 2013 - February 28, 2014
Chapter 2. Statewide Regulations for Fishing and Frogging in Inland Waters Provisions and Definitions
For your convenience, I have reproduced the 2013 herp regulations below. All emphasis has been added by me and is not part of the original document. I have also separated the families with headings - salamanders, frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes.
5.05. Amphibians. (Page 18)
(a) Only the following amphibians may be taken under the authority of a sportfishing license, subject to the restrictions in this section. No amphibians may be taken from ecological reserves designated by the commission in Section 630 or from state parks, or national parks or monuments.
(b) Limit: The limit for each of the species listed below is four, unless otherwise provided. Limit, as used in this section, means daily bag and possession limit.
(1) Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus)
(2) Rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa)
(3) Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile)
(4) Black salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus): See Special Closure (f )(1)
(5) Clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus)
(6) Arboreal salamander (Aneides lugubris)
(7) California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)
(8) Pacific slender salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus)
(The CDFW must be using Batrachoseps pacificus in the older understanding of the name, which would make it the Garden Slender
Salamander - Batrachoseps major and not the Channel Islands Slender Salamander - Batrachoseps pacificus.)
(9) Dunn’s salamander (Plethodon dunni)
(10) Ensatina salamander (Ensatina eschscholtzii)
Frogs and Toads
(11) Western toad (Bufo boreas)
(12) Woodhouse’s toad (Bufo woodhouseii)
(13) Red-spotted toad (Bufo punctatus)
(14) Great Plains toad (Bufo cognatus)
(15) Great Basin spadefoot toad (Spea (Scaphiopus) intermontana)
(16) California chorus frog (Pseudacris (Hyla) cadaverina)
(17) Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris (Hyla) regilla)
(18) Southern leopard frog (Rana Lithobates) sphenocephalus): Limit: No limit.
(19) Rio Grande leopard frog (Rana (Lithobates) berlandieri): Limit: No limit.
(20) Bullfrog (Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana): Limit: No limit.
(c) Open season: All year. The season closures in Chapter 3 (District Trout and Salmon District General Regulations and Special Regulations) do not apply to fishing for amphibians with methods other than hook and line (see sections 7.00 and 7.50(a)(2)).
(d) Hours: Amphibians may be taken at any time of day or night.
(e) Methods of take:
(1) Amphibians may be taken only by hand, hand-held dip net, or hook and line, except bullfrogs may also be taken by lights, spears, gigs, grabs, paddles, bow and arrow, or fishing tackle.
(2) It is unlawful to use any method or means of collecting that involves breaking apart of rocks, granite flakes, logs, or other shelters in or under which amphibians may be found.
(f) Special closures:
(1) No black salamanders (Aneides flavipunctatus) may be taken in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.
5.60. Reptiles. (Page 20-22)
(a) General Provisions: Only the following reptiles may be taken under the authority of a sportfishing license, subject to the restrictions in this section. No sportfishing license is required for the sport take of any rattlesnake, but bag and possession limits do apply. No reptiles shall be taken from ecological reserves designated by the commission in Section 630 or from state parks, or national parks or monuments.
(b) Limit: The limit for each of the species listed below is two, unless otherwise provided. Limit, as used in this section, means daily bag and possession limit.
(1) Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta): Limit: No limit.
(2) Slider Turtle (Pseudemys (Trachemys) scripta): Limit: No limit.
(3) Spiny softshell turtle (Trionyx spiniferus): Limit: No limit.
(4) Western banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), except San Diego banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus abbotti): See Special Closure (f )(1)
(5) Desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis)
(6) Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus (ater))
(7) Zebra-tailed lizard (Callisaurus draconoides)
(8) Desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister)
(9) Granite spiny lizard (Sceloporus orcutti): Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
(10) Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis): Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
(11) Sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus): Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
(12) Side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana): Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
(13) Western skink (Eumeces skiltonianus): Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
(14) Desert night lizard (Xantusia vigilis), except Xantusia vigilis sierrae: See Special Closure (f )(2)
[This is a mistake - it should be (f)(3)] :
Limit: Species No. 9-13 have a limit of twenty-five (25) in the aggregate
[Since this is species 14 - the actual limit is unclear.]
(15) Long-tailed brush lizard (Urosaurus graciosus)
(16) Tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
(17) Small-scaled lizard (Urosaurus microscutatus)
(18) Desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
(19) Short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassii)
(20) Great basin collared lizard (Crotaphytus bicintores)
(21) Banded rock lizard (Petrosaurus mearnsi)
(22) Baja California collared lizard (Crotaphytus vestigum)
(23) Long-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia wislizenii)
(24) Gilbert’s skink (Eumeces (Plestiodon) gilberti)
(25) Western whiptail (Cnemidophorus (Apidoscelis) tigris)
(26) Southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata)
(27) Northern alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea)
(28) Rubber boa (Charina bottae), except southern rubber boa (Charina bottae umbratica): See Special Closure (f )(3)
[This is a mistake - it should be (f)(2)]
(29) Rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata)
(30) Ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus), except Diadophis punctatus regalis: See Special Closure (f )(4)
(31) Sharp-tailed snakes (Contia spp.)
(32) Spotted leaf-nosed snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus)
(33) Racer (Coluber constrictor)
(34) Coachwhip (Masticophis (Coluber) flagellum), except San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddocki):
See Special Closure (f )(5)
(35) Striped whipsnake (Masticophis (Coluber) taeniatus)
(36) California whipsnake (striped racer) (Masticophis (Coluber) lateralis), except Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis
euryxanthus): See Special Closure (f )(6)
(37) Western (Desert) patch-nosed snake (Salvadora hexalepis), except Salvadora hexalepis virgultea:
See Special Closure (f )(7) .
(38) Glossy snake (Arizona elegans), except Arizona elegans occidentalis: See Special Closure (f )(8)
(39) Gopher snake (Pituophis melanoleucus): Limit: Four (4)
(40) Common kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula): Limit: Four (4)
(41) California mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata), except San Diego mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata
pulchra) and San Bernardino mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra): Limit:
One (1). See Special Closure: (f )(9)
(42) Long-nosed snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
(43) Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), except San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) and South
Coast garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sp.): See Special Closure (f )(10)
(44) Terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans)
(45) Western aquatic (Sierra) garter snake (Thamnophis couchii)
(46) Pacific coast aquatic garter snake (Thamnophis atratus)
(47) Northwestern garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)
(48) Checkered garter snake (Thamnophis marcianus)
(49) Variable ground snake (Sonora semiannulata)
(50) Western shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis occipitalis)
(51) California (Western) black-headed snake (Tantilla planiceps)
(52) Southwestern (Smith’s) black-headed snake (Tantilla hobartsmithi)
(53) Lyre snakes (Trimorphodon spp.)
(54) Night snakes (Hypsiglena spp.)
(55) Western blind snake (Southwestern threadsnake) (Leptotyphlops (Rena) humilis)
(56) Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
(57) Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
(58) Western rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridus (oreganus)) spp.
(59) Speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli)
(60) Sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes spp.)
(61) Panamint rattlesnake (Crotalus stephensi)
(62) Red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber): Limit: Zero (0)
(c) Open season: All year.
(d) Hours: Reptiles may be taken at any time of day or night.
(e) Methods of take:
(1) Reptiles may be taken only by hand, except as provided in subsections (e)(2) and (3) below, or by the following
(A) Lizard nooses.
(B) Snake tongs.
(C) Snake hooks.
(2) Rattlesnakes may be taken by any method.
(3) Turtles may be taken by hook and line. Fishing methods described in Section 2.00 apply to the take of spiny softshell turtles,
slider turtles and painted turtles.
(4) It is unlawful to use any method or means of collecting that involves breaking apart of rocks, granite flakes, logs or other
shelters in or under which reptiles may be found.
(f) Special Closures:
(1) No geckos (Coleonyx variegatus) may be taken in San Diego County south and west of Highway 79 to its junction with County
Road S-2, and south and west of County Road S-2 to the eastern San Diego County border.
(2) No rubber boas (Charina bottae or Charina umbratica) may be taken in Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino
(3) No night lizards (Xantusia vigilis) may be taken in Kern County.
(4) No ringneck snakes (Diadophis punctatus) may be taken in San Bernardino or Inyo counties.
(5) No coachwhips (Masticophis (Coluber) flagellum) may be taken in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, Tulare.
(6) No California whipsnakes (striped racer) (Masticophis (Coluber) lateralis) may be taken in Alameda and Contra Costa
(7) No Western (desert) patch-nosed snakes (Salvadora hexalepis) may be taken in the following counties: Los Angeles,
Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
(8) No glossy snakes (Arizona elegans) may be taken in the following counties: Alameda, Fresno, Imperial (west of Hwy 111),
Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside (southwest of Hwy 111 and I-10), San Benito, San Bernardino (West of I-215 and Hwy 138), San
Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Tulare.
(9) No California mountain kingsnakes (Lampropeltis zonata) may be taken in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San
Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.
(10) No common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) may be taken in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura
|Changes from the 2012 Regulations
There have been many changes from the 2012 regulations, so anyone familiar with the regulations for the last four or five years, should definitely study the new ones since many species which formerly could be taken can no longer be taken.
These are the changes I noticed:
The following salamanders have been removed from the list of amphibians that can be taken with a current fishing license. They are listed here as they were on the 2012 list:
California giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus)
Southern seep (torrent) salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)
California newt (Taricha torosa) (This would include both the Coast Range Newt and the Sierra Newt)
Red-bellied newt (Taricha rivularis)
Southern long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum)
Relictual slender salamander (Batrachoseps relictus)
Dunn’s salamander (Plethodon dunni)
A special closure was added prohibiting the take of Black Salamanders from San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties,
making it no longer legal to collect the Santa Cruz Black Salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus niger)
Couch’s spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus (Spea) couchii) has been removed from the list of amphibians that can be taken with a current fishing license.
Northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) has been removed from the list of amphibians that can be taken with a current fishing license.
The following lizards have been removed from the list of reptiles that can be taken with a current fishing license:
Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard (Uma notata)
Mojave fringe-toed lizard (Uma scoparia)
California legless lizard (Anniella pulchra)
A special closure was added that restricts the take of San Diego banded geckos (Coleonyx variegatus abbotti) from San Diego County south and west of Highway 79 to its junction with County Road S-2, and south and west of County Road S-2 to the eastern San Diego County border.
The CDFW now almost recognizes that rattlesnakes are a worthwhile part of our native fauna by adding the following rattlesnakes to the list of reptiles that can be taken with a current fishing license, and by imposing bag and possession limits, but you still don't need a license to take them: "No sportfishing license is required for the sport take of any rattlesnake, but bag and possession limits do apply." However, the Red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber) is now restricted from take:
Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Mojave rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
Western rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridus (oreganus)) spp.
Speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchelli)
Sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes spp.)
Panamint rattlesnake (Crotalus stephensi)
Red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber): Limit: Zero (0)
A special closure was added to protec the Regal ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis) (which will also now affect some San Bernardino Ring-necked Snakes (Diadophis punctatus modestus) which inhabit western San Bernardino county):
No ringneck snakes (Diadophis punctatus) may be taken in San Bernardino or Inyo counties.
With the addition of "Contia spp." to the list, the Forest Sharp-tailed snake is now recognized and on the list.
A special closure was added to protect the San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddock)i (which was previously protected by name. This also prohibits taking any Red coachwhips on the desert side of Kern County):
No coachwhips (Masticophis (Coluber) flagellum) may be taken in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, Tulare.
A special closure was added to protect the Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus) (which was previously protected by name):
No California whipsnakes (striped racer) Masticophis (Coluber) lateralis may be taken in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
A special closure was added to protect the Coast Patch-nosed Snake - Salvadora hexalepis virgultea:
No Western (desert) patch-nosed snakes (Salvadora hexalepis) may be taken in the following counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
A special closure was added to protect the California Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans occidentalis) (which was previously not protected. This will also prohibit taking Mohave Glossy Snakes from the desert side of Kern County.):
No glossy snakes (Arizona elegans) may be taken in the following counties: Alameda, Fresno, Imperial (west of Hwy 111), Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside (southwest of Hwy 111 and I-10), San Benito, San Bernardino (West of I-215 and Hwy 138), San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Tulare.
A special closure was added to protect the San Diego mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata pulchra) and the San Bernardino mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra) (which was not protected previously):
No California mountain kingsnakes (Lampropeltis zonata) may be taken in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.
A special closure was added to protect south coast Common Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis):
No common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) may be taken in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura counties.
Lyre snakes are now listed as Trimorphodon spp. This effectively adds the Sonoran Lyresnake(Trimorphodon lambda) to the list.
Night snakes are now listed as Hypsiglena spp. This now includes both species which are now recognized in the state on the list: Hypsiglena chlorophaea and Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha.
|Herps not on the lists of animals that can be taken with a valid sportfishing license (or protected by a special closure)
The lists above indicate which reptiles and amphibians can be taken. This simplifies enforcement for the CDFW, because any animal not on the list is automatically protected, including newly discovered species, and newly-described species.
I thought it would be useful to make a list of herps that are not on the above lists, and which therefore cannot be taken. (If I missed anything, please let me know. )
This is tricky because some animals on my list are probably not on the CDFW lists because they are newly recognized subspecies or species, such as the Wandering Salamander, which used to be classified as the Clouded Salamander. (The Clouded Salamander can be taken, but the Wandering Salamander is not on the list. Does this mean the Wandering Salamander cannot be taken, or is it still classified as the Clouded Salamander? One would have to contact the CDFW for the answer.)
Another problem is the genus Batrachoseps, which has recently been split into many new species which are probably not yet recognized by the CDFW, and that is why they are not on the list of animals which can be taken. For example, many of the Sierra Batrachoseps which were formerly classified as Batrachoseps nigriventris and Batrachoseps pacificus, have been re-classified as full species - B. kawia, B. regius, B. gregarius, B. diabolicus. This taxonomy and these names are in common use now, but the changes are not reflected in the CDFW list. The CDFW appears to be conservative, reacting slowly to changes in nomenclature. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all, but it can make it confusing to those trying to understand the regulations.
Also not included on the take lists are non-native species. Some of these are listed as Restricted Species which cannot be taken, and those are added to my lists below. But some, such as the Mediterranean Gecko and the Southern Italian Wall Lizard are not yet listed as Restricted Species. My interpretation of the regulations is that any species not on the take list cannot be taken, including these and any other non-native herps. However, the CDFW has an invasive species program that encourages collecting and reporting invasive species - Laws and Regulations Regarding Invasive Species in California so for this program, you are allowed to collect non-native species in order to send them to the CDFW.
Please do not consider the following lists as an official representation or interpretation of the current law. You will have to determine that yourself.
California Herps that may not be taken:
Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum (mavortium)) (None of the non-native
California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum)
Wandering Salamander (Aneides vagrans) (this is not clear as the CDFW may still include this species with Aneides ferreus,
which can be taken)
Hell Hollow Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps diabolicus)
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps gavilanesis)
Sequoia Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps kawia)
Santa Lucia Mountains Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps luciae)
Kings River Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps regius)
Inyo Mountains Salamander (Batrachoseps campi )
Kern Plateau Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps robustus)
Kern Canyon Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps simatus)
Tehachapi Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps stebbinsi)
Desert Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps major aridus)
Black-bellied Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris)
San Gabriel Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps gabrieli)
Gregarious Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps gregarius)
Lesser Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps minor)
San Simeon Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps incognitus)
Relictual Slender salamander (Batrachoseps relictus)
Fairview Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps bramei)
Greenhorn Mountains Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps altasierra)
Channel Islands slender Salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus)
Shasta Salamander (Hydromantes shastae)
Limestone Salamander (Hydromantes brunus)
Mt. Lyell Salamander (Hydromantes platycephalus)
Del Norte Salamander (Plethodon elongatus)
Siskiyou Mountains Salamander (Plethodon stormi)
Scott Bar Salamander (Plethodon asupak )
California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus)
Southern Seep (Torrent) Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)
Coast Range Newt (Taricha torosa)
Sierra Newt (Taricha sierrae)
Red-bellied Newt (Taricha rivularis)
Southern Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum sigillatum)
Dunn’s Salamander (Plethodon dunni)
Frogs and Toads
Sonoran Desert Toad (Bufo (Incilius) alvarius)
Arroyo Toad (Bufo (Anaxyrus) Californicus)
Arizona Toad (Bufo (Anaxyrus) microscaphus)
Black Toad (Bufo (Anaxyrus) exsul)
Yosemite Toad (Bufo (Anaxyrus) canorus)
California Red- legged Frog (Rana draytonii)
Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora)
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii)
Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog (Rana sierrae)
Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa)
Cascades Frog (Rana cascadae)
Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)
Lowland Leopard Frog (Rana (Lithobates) yavapaiensis)
California Spadefoot (Spea hammondii)
African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis)
Coastal Tailed Frog (Ascaphus truei)
Couch’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus (Spea) couchii)
Northern Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata marmorata)
Southern Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata pallida)
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense)
All Sea Turtles
Orange-throated Whiptail (Aspidoscelis hyperythrus beldingi)
Black Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra) - dark morph from Monterey Bay
Peninsular Banded Gecko (Barefoot Gecko) (Coleonyx switaki)
Panamint Alligator Lizard (Elgaria panamintina)
Cope's Leopard Lizard (Gambelia copei)
Blunt-nosed Leopard (Gambelia sila)
Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum cinctum)
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii)
Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum)
Peninsula Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus nocticolus)
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma inornata)
Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard (Uma notata)
Mojave fringe-toed lizard (Uma scoparia)
Sandstone Night Lizard (Xantusia gracilis)
Granite Night Lizard (Xantusia henshawi)
Island Night Lizard (Xantusia riversiana)
Baja California Night Lizard (Xantusia wigginsi) (This lizard may be included with Xantusia vigilis)
San Diego banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus abbotti)
California Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra) (This encompasses all of the five species which were described in 2013, A.
alexanderae, A. campi, A. grinnelli, A. pulchra, and A. stebbinsi.)
Baja California Ratsnake (Bogertophis rosaliae)
Southern Rubber Boa (Charina umbratica)
San Diego Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata pulchra)
San Bernardino Mountain Kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra)
San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddocki)
Alameda Whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus)
Coast Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis virgultea)
Yellow- bellied Sea Snake (Pelamis Platurus)
Two-striped Gartersnake (Thamnophis hammondii)
Giant Gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas)
San Francisco Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia)
Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) (From Southern California, only)
Watersnakes (all species) (Nerodia)
Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber)
California Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans occidentalis)
San Bernardino Ring-necked Snakes (Diadophis punctatus modestus)
Regal Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus regalis)
| Restricted Species Laws and Regulations (Reptiles and Amphibians)
Other species besides native species are also restricted from importation, transportation, and possession. You can see information regarding all restricted species in Restricted Species Regulations Manual 671 available for download at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website here.
To download the .PDF file directly click here (or do a search for "restricted species" if this link has been changed.)
Below is a copy of the information regarding reptiles and amphibians.
§671. Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Restricted Animals. (a) It shall be unlawful to import, transport, or possess live animals restricted in subsection (c) below except under permit issued by the department. Permits may be issued by the department as specified herein and for purposes designated in Section 671.1 subject to the conditions and restrictions designated by the department. Except for mammals listed in Fish and Game Code Section 3950 or live aquatic animals requiring a permit pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 2271, no permit is required by this section for any animal being imported, transported, or possessed pursuant to any other permit issued by the department. Cities and counties may also prohibit possession or require a permit for these and other species not requiring a state permit.
(b) The commission has determined the below listed animals are not normally domesticated in this state. Mammals listed to prevent the depletion of wild populations and to provide for animal welfare are termed "welfare animals", and are designated by the letter "W". Those species listed because they pose a threat to native wildlife, the agriculture interests of the state or to public health or safety are termed "detrimental animals" and are designated by the letter "D". The department shall include the list of welfare and detrimental wild animals as part of DFG MANUAL NO. 671 (2/25/92) IMPORTATION, TRANSPORTATION AND POSSESSION OF RESTRICTED SPECIES, to be made available to all permittees and other interested individuals.
(c) Restricted species include:
… … … ...
(3) Class Amphibia -Frogs, Toads, Salamanders
(A) Family Bufonidae -Toads: Bufo marinus, Bufo paracnemis, Bufo horribilis (Giant toad or marine toad group) and all other large toads from Mexico and Central and South America-(D).
(B) Family Pipidae -Tongueless Toads:
1. Genus Xenopus (Clawed frog)-(D).
(C) Family Ambystomatidae-Mole Salamanders:
1. Genus Ambystoma (tiger salamanders) (D).
(D) Family Leptodactylidae -Neotropical Frogs:
1. Eleutherodactylus coqui -Commom Coqui or Coqui frog (D).
(7) Class Reptilia -Reptiles
(A) Order Crocodilia -Crocodiles, Caimans, Alligators and Gavials: All species (D).
(B) Family Chelyridae -Snapping Turtles: All species (D).
(C) Family Elapidae -Cobras, Coral Snakes, Mambas, Kraits, etc.: All species (D).
(D) Family Viperidae -Adders and Vipers: All species (D).
(E) Family Crotalidae -Pit Vipers: All species (D), except Crotalus viridis (Western rattlesnake), Crotalus atrox
(Western diamondback rattlesnake), Crotalus ruber (red diamondback rattlesnake), Crotalus scutulatus (Mojave rattlesnake), Crotalus mitchelli (speckled rattlesnake) and Crotalus cerastes (Sidewinder) not restricted.
(F) Family Colubridae -Colubrids:
1. Dispholidus typus (Boomslang) (D).
2. Theoltornis kitlandii (Bird or vine snake) (D).
3. All species of genus Nerodia (watersnakes) (D).
(G) Family Helodermatidae:
1. Heloderma suspectum suspectum (reticulate Gila monster) (D).