A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

New Additions in 2008

observation link

The following links lead to pages which include some of the new pictures and other content I have added to the site in 2008 (not the actual new pictures - you need to search the page to find them.) The most recent additions are on top of the list. The list of additions to the site in 2007 is here.


Jason Butler contributed pics of a Southern Pond Turtle, a CA Red-legged Frog, and a Two-striped Gartersnake from Santa Barbara County.
Video of some amazing defense behavior showing a Larch Mountain Slamander springing into a ball and rolling off a rock to escape danger.
A Painted Ensatina video.
Max Kelley sent in a picture of a California Giant Salamander finishing eating a large rodent.
Emily Taylor sent in a picture of a Jackson's Chameleon she found in Morro Bay at the end of November
A couple videos of Del Norte Salamanders
Cascade Torrent Salamanders video
Boreal Toad video


juvenile Shasta Alligator Lizard video
Ensatina video
Dunn's Salamander video
A reddish Two-striped Gartersnake from Ventura County from Vince Semonsen.
A video of a feisty Red-sided Gartersnake from Vince Semonsen.
Southern Torrent Salamander video
Coastal Giant Salamander larvae video
California Slender Salamanders video
Speckled Black Salamanders video
Coast Range Newts video
Arboreal Salamander pics and video
Skilton's Skink video
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake video


Common Side-blotched lizard pics and videos
Western Black-necked Gartersnakes from Arizona, including one eating a Chiricahua Leopard Frog, pictures and video.
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
A short video of a juvenile Sonoran Gopher Snake hissing and striking defensively.
A series of pictures of a Long-nosed Snake eating a Great Basin Whiptail, sent in by Lynette Schimming.
Chiricahua Leopard Frogs pics and video
The sound of a Cicada that sounds like a rattlesnake
Metamorph Canyon Treefrog
Metamorph Great Plains Narrow-mouthed Toad
Hatchling Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard
Sonoran Mud Turtle pics and video
Olive Ridley swimming in an aquarium pics and video
Red-eared Sliders pics and video
Great Basin Collared Lizards pics and video

I have added a number of excellent sound recordings donated by Jeff Rice of the Western Soundscape Archive:
Gila Monster
Amargosa Toad
Relict Leopard Frog
African Clawed Frog
Great Basin Rattlesnake
Fledgling Burrowing Owls in a burrow mimicing the sounds of a rattlesnake

Karen Wylde sent in a picture of a solid yellow Yellow-bellied Sea Snake from Costa Rica

Alan D. Barron sent in pics of a couple of Terrestrial Gartersnakes from Del Norte County


Baja California Collared Lizard Video
Great Basin Gophersnake Video and Pics
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Rio Grande Leopard Frog
Sierra Fence Lizards pics and video
Rocky Mountain (Woodhouse's) Toad from the Colorado River
California Treefrogs, recently metamorphosed
Side-by-side comparison pics of a Foothill Yellow-legged Frog and a Northern Red-legged Frog
Olympic Torrent Salamander pictures and video
Texas Horned Lizard video
Southern Long-toed Salamander larvae pictures and videos.
Sonoran Desert Toads video
Sonoran Whiptails from Arizona
Desert Spiny Lizard
Barred Spiny Lizard
Loggerhead from the Brooklyn Aquarium at Coney Island

Michele Coughlin sent in a picture of a California Kingsnake eating a young rattlesnake.
Gary Grantham sent in a picture of a San Diego Alligator Lizard measuring over 16 inches long including the tail.
Mike Pecora sent in a picture of a California Black-headed snake from Orange County.
Ricky Ortiz sent in a picture of a juvenile Coast Horned Lizard from Contra Costa County.


Lots of new things from Arizona and New Mexico during the summer monsoons in July and August:

A calling male American Bullfrog video and a distant telephoto night shot with a spotlight that didn't quite turn out as good as I'd hoped.
Couch's Spadefoots calling and amplexing video and new pics.
Calling male Western Green Toads video, new sounds, and new pics.
Canyon Treefrog video of several callng males, some new sound recordings, and pictures.
Sonoran Desert Toad new pics and, finally, some sound recordings.
Lowland Leopard Frogs, tadpoles, and eggs, pics and video.
A Sonoran Green Toad from Arizona
New Mexico Spadeoots pictures, sounds, and video, from Arizona and New Mexico.
Western Chorus Frog from Arizona pics and video
Chiricahua Leopard Frog and habitat in Arizona
Southwestern Woodhouse's Toad from Arizona

Barred Tiger Salamander from Arizona pics and video
A transformed Arizona Tiger Salamander from the Mogollon Rim of Arizona including a short video.
Sacramento Mountains Salamanders from New Mexico pics and video

A Plains Black-headed Snake from New Mexico pics and video.
A Smith's Black-headed Snake from Arizona including a short video.
A New Mexico Threadsnake.
Video of a Northern Mohave Rattlesnake rattling and coiling defensively.
Video of a Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake rattling in a defensive pose.
Pictures of a couple of Desert Kingsnakes, one with bright yellow and another very dark one.
Wandering Gartersnakes from Arizona
Sonoran Gophersnakes from Arizona pics and video

A Round-tailed Horned Lizard from New Mexico, including video.
A Regal Horned Lizard from Arizona
A Texas Horned Lizard from Arizona
Clarks Spiny Lizards from Arizona pics and video
Tree Lizards from Arizona including video
Arizona Alligator Lizard from Arizona with video.
Yarrow's Spiny Lizards from Arizona pics and video
Tucson Banded Gecko from Arizona, pictures and videos
Greater Earless Lizards from Arizona pics and video
Little White Whiptails from New Mexico
Southwestern Fence Lizard from New Mexico
Gila Spotted Whiptail from Arizona pics and Video
Speckled Earless Lizards from Arizona pics and video
Sonoran Earless Lizards from Arizona pics and video
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizards from Arizona
Plateau Striped Whiptails from Arizona
Plateau Lizards from Arizona
Striped Plateau Lizards from Arizona pics and video

A melanistic Shasta Alligator Lizard photographed by Joe Eastham in Humboldt County
An unusual yellow morph Northwestern Salamander larvae from Alan D. Barron.
Darrel Roberts sent in a picture of a Red Coachwhip eating a small rattlesnake.
Kevin Anders sent in a series of pictures of an Oregon Gartersnake eating a fish in Siskiyou County.
A nice picture of a Two-striped Gartersnake from Jeremy Huff

Mark Pugs sent in pics he took in May of two mating Red Coachwhips.
Jerry Boyer sent in a picture of a newly hatched Coast Horned Lizard about the size of a quarter.


Sounds, and Video of Lowland Burrowing Treefrogs calling in Arizona, along wit some new photos.

Ross Padilla sent in a picture of an aberrant Caifornia Kingsnake from western Riverside County - a Newport-Long Beach "Barred" morph (using a name from the forthcoming book on Common Kingsnakes written by Brian Hubbs). The first he has seen in 18 years of herping the area.

Steve Ivie sent in a cool series of pictures showing a huge Two-striped Gartersnake eating a trout that it dragged out of a river onto a rock.

Two short videos and audio of Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs at a breeding site, including one showing a male frog calling in the air (but recorded with an underwater microphone.)
A short video of male Cascades Frogs and their breeing habitat, including some calling frogs.
A short video of a male Pacific Treefrog calling while floating on a mountain pond.
A short video of a Valley Gartersnake found at the edge of the same pond with the Cascades Frogs, probably looking to have frog for lunch.

Joe Deutsch found a nice striped California Kingsnake eating a juvenile rattlesnake in his yard and sent in some pics of this gruesome feast.


Melissa Amarello sent in a picture of a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from coastal grassland in San Mateo County.

William Flaxington and Kevin Law get added to the switaki Hall of Fame with their pictures of Peninsular Banded Geckos.

Oscar Johnson sent in some pictures of snakes from Santa Cruz Island: Western Yellow-bellied Racer, and Santa Cruz Island Gophersnake.

A few herps from the northern forests of Okanagan County, Washington
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Western Painted Turtles pics and video
Great Basin Gophersnake

Thanks to Bill Stagnaro for sending in some pictures of California Tiger Salamander eggs.

Pictures and video of the San Joaquin Coachwhip, my first after years of wanting to see one.
Pictures and some video of several Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizards.
Pictures and video of Southern Sagebrush Lizards
Pictures and video of Flat-tailed horned lizards.
Shakey video of Zebra-tailed Lizards including tail display and wagging.
Pictures and video of Great Basin Whiptails.
Pictures and video of a California Legless Lizard
Pictures and videos of Long-tailed Brush Lizards.
Pictures of a few Granite Night Lizards from the coast and the desert.
Pictures of Black-tailed Brush Lizards
Pictures and video of a Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
Pictures and video of a Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake
Pictures and video of Desert Banded Geckos
Pictures and video of a Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
Pictures and videos of Chuckwallas
Pictures of Granite Spiny Lizards
Pictures and video of a Colorado Desert Sidewinder
Pictures and video of Desert Iguanas


Some nice pictures of a Peninsular Banded Gecko from Bruce Edley.

A sudden decision to drive into the mountains earlier than I had planned this year, put me at a Yosemite Toad breeding spot just as they were beginning to breed. It was getting cold up there over 9000 feet in the snow and they were reluctant to call, but fortunately I ran into a very cool US Forest Service Biologist who helped me record the toads by inducing them to call. It was an amazingly lucky set of circumstances. So, I've added some new pics, video and audio of the toads.

Mohave Sidewinder pics and short video showing it's sidewinding locomotion.
Pictures and video of California Toads from two isolated Mojave Desert locations - Afton Canyon and Darwin Falls.
A couple of Desert Tortoises stopped and almost posed, including video of a juvenile Desert Tortoise walking along the desert.
A nice male Great Basin Collared-lizard that nearly took my finger off with its vice-grip jaws.
Several pics of a male Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard and his habitat and videos of it running and burying.
Pics and a short video of a San Diego Gophersnake flicking its tongue and crawling away. A real Oscar-winner...
Lots of new Mearns' Rock Lizard pics (I hate that name. Banded Rock Lizard was way better.) And a short video.
Long-nosed Snake (found on a road in the middle of the day.) Including a short video showing it crawling.

OK, Mike, now I've got my own pictures of a Coastal Whiptail, from San Diego County. This one even stopped moving for a split second. I also got pics of a nice Orange-throated Whiptail at the same spot.

Lots more pics of Coast Horned lizards from LA and San Diego Counties
Desert Patch-nosed Snake Pics (finally!)

Bloched Tiger Salamander Pics from Idaho from John Huffman

Pictures and videos of calling California Treefrogs in San Diego County.
Lots of new pics, sounds, and video of Great Plains Toads including calling males and amplexus.
I got some pics of a nice Granite Night Lizard and a San Diego Banded Gecko found among the boulders of coastal Riverside County.

Mike Ryan told me about a nice grueling hike to take in the San Gabriel Mountains to see Horned Lizards. I went and found a couple, but my real goal was to get better pics of the Coastal Whiptail, which I knew would also be there. I saw a couple of them running away, but got no pics. He goes up the very next day and gets a nice picture you can see here. Beginners luck.... He also saw this San Diego Alligator Lizard with a nice colorful pattern.

New pics of
Cope's Giant Salamander
Dunn's Salamander
Cascade Torrent Salamander
, and
Larch Mountain Salamander

Renee Simpson sent in some pictures of a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a rodent.

Pamela Greer sent me a picture of a Valley Gartersnake eating a California Toad.

Alan Barron sent in pictures of a rare sighting of a Northwestern Pond Turtle in Del Norte County.

Patrick Briggs contributed some great pictures of Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes, a feisty Pacific Gopher snake, and a Diablo Garter snake.

I have added a movie of a male fence lizard chasing a female and posturing and included it on a new page linking to all of the movies available on the site. So far, there are not many movies, but I plan to continue to add more.


A recent Rosy Boa study recognizes two species. The ranges of these species are summarized on the Rosy Boa pages.

A beautiful bright orange Ground Snake from the Mojave, courtesy of Jeremiah Easter along with two Side-blotched lizards mating, a sure sign of spring.

I've added some new recordings I made in March - California Red-legged frogs from Contra Costa County, and underwater recordings of the Northern Red-legged frogs that Maureen Krinsky helped me to get at her artificial pond in Humboldt County.

Donald Schultz donated a great series of pictures of a San Diego Ring-necked Snake regurgitating a large California Legless Lizard.

A huge San Diego Alligator lizard from the backyard of Steve Heimwetz.

A juvenile Coast Horned Lizard found in the same spot where two adults were found breeding a year earlier, from Becky Trask.

A San Diego Gopher Snake eating a huge rat, from Matt Maxon and Johanna Turner.

A number of nice pictures from Michael Clarkson, including
Desert Rosy Boa
Baja California Lyre Snake
Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake
Great Basin Gophersnake
Legless Lizard


A Desert Iguana feasting on spring flowers from Bruce Montgomery

Sierra Night Lizard and a
California Legless Lizard from Kern County from Jackson Shedd

March is salamander and frog month in NorCal...

Dunn's Salamander
Scott Bar Salamander
California Newts - lots of new pictures of breeding activity
Rough-skinned Newts
Sierra Newt
Red-bellied Newts in breeding habitat
Painted Ensatina - an adult and juvenile together
Coastal Giant Salamander, adult and larva
Clouded Salamander from Del Norte County
Wandering Salamander - including a comparison with a Black Salamader
Arboreal Salamander
Del Norte Salamander - including an adult and juvenile combo and a red-striped adult from Humboldt county
Southern Torrent Salamanders - male, female, and larva underwater
Yellow-eyed Ensatina
Speckled Black Salamander - adult and juvenile comparison shots of large-spotted and frosted forms
California Slender Salamander

Western Spadefoot sounds recorded in Butte County

Tailed Frog
Northern Red-legged Frogs - including a foggy pic of a male calling underwater and pics of him out of the water
Pacific Treefrogs and eggs
Northwestern Garter Snake from Del Norte County
Sharp-tailed Snakes, adult and juv. from Butte County

An orange Sharp-tailed Snake from Jackson Shedd, described as "hypoalbanistic." Whatever it is, it's a weird one.

Valley Gartersnake eating an introduced leopard frog from Fresno County, sent by Matt Mastriano

Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs from Shasta County sent by Michael A. Peters


I've added some new underwater recordings of Rana aurora - Northern Red-legged Frogs. Spring is (sort of) here!

I have finally finished the Turtles Identification section. Kind of a joke for California, since we have so few turtles, but I did what I could to make it interesting, including adding a key to sea turtles. Some day I gotta get better pictures of turtles....

The Fishing regulations arrived early this year. I have revised the Regulations page to reflect this year's manual. Once again, there were no changes in what you can collect or in the sometimes outdated taxonomy used on the list.


A Speckled Black Salamander from Tehama County near Red Bluff photographed by Ryan Henson.

A large neotenic Coastal Giant Salamander, found and photographed by Molly Rinaldi.

Conservation listings as they are tracked by the CA Dept. of Fish and Game have been added to the page for each California animal to better illustrate the health of wild populations of California's Herps. I am following the Fish and Game list because it is a good condensed source of the listings of many organizations and I do not have the time or resources to track each organization's listings.

I have followed or noted the new nomenclature used by the Sixth edition of the SSAR Common and Scientific Names list published January 2008. I have not changed all of my names or lists to conform to the SSAR list because I want to wait to see if many of the changes are accepted and used in upcoming publications. There has been much protest about some of the changes such as the new amphibian classification and the change from Masticophis to Coluber. I have also decided not to follow their Sceloporus magister taxonomy because a later study with a larger sample size pretty much contradicts it.

I know this makes many of the names ridiculously cluttered and confusing, but without accepting or ignoring all of the changes, I don't know what else to do. Also, changing all of my names has taken an incredible amount of my time, so I plead with the SSAR and all herp researchers trying to maintain their tenure to stop studying the evolutionary history of California's herps and go get a real job! I hear that there are some good opportunities in nursing or in long-distance trucking.

In making all the above changes I have also gone throught the site and removed a lot of dead links. It is impossible for me to keep up with all of the link changes (thanks a lot CA Dept. of Fish and Game, the USGS, Amphibiaweb, and many other organizations for changing all of your links) so I have either completely removed them or replaced them with what I hope will remain at least a more reliable generic link.

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