A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

New Additions in 2009


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 2009 (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 2008 can be seen here.


Suzanne Cogen contributed a picture of a California Giant Salamander eating a banana slug that she took at 3 PM in mid December. And you thought they were nocturnal salamanders...

I have finally put up a few pages with collections of pictures and video that illustrate herp behavior and features, compiled from all of the pictures on the web site. I'm calling these "behavior" pages for lack of a better description. I have been working on this for a long time, and I think this is certainly the most entertaining part of the web site. It's also a great way to start using the site for someone who is not interested strictly in how a certain species looks or is named or is identified. Here you can watch frogs eat, lizards fighting, and snakes trying to bite me. So far I have huge pages for Lizards, Snakes, Salamanders, and Frogs. Since I don't have many illustrations of Turtle behavior, I'll put those up later.


I have put up some sound recordings that Jeff Rice and I made at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in August, along with pictures of the animals recorded, incuding several rattlesnakes - Southern Pacific, Arizona Ridge-nosed, Black-tailed, Banded Rock, Sonoran Sidewinder, Tiger, and a Banded Gila Monster.
It's interesting to hear the difference in the sounds made by snakes with large rattles such as the Tiger vs. those with a tiny rattle string
such as the ridge-nosed.

An interesting gray-green or maybe blue-green speckled Clouded salamander from Del Norte County from Alan Baron.

Richard Morgan II contributed a picture of a black and white Variable Groundsnake from Riverside County.

Steven Krause contributed pictures of two colorful Northwestern Gartersnakes, one nearly purple, from Del Norte County.

Mike Spencer sent in: Striped Pacific gophersnake from Solano County, Black Salamander from Lake County, and some herps formerly not represented from Mendocino County - Northern Red-legged Frog, CA red-sided gartersnake, Wandering Salamander, and Southern Torrent Salamander.

Dave Feliz sent in a Western Yellow-bellied Racer from Yolo County.

I have been adding some more videos that I have finally gotten around to editing of some miscellaneous herps including Canyon Treefrogs from Utah, Foothill Yellow-legged Frog tadpoles, California Treefrog, Sierran Treefrog tadpoles, Coastal Giant Salamander larva, American Bullfrogs, and a Red-diamond Rattlesnake crawling around at night.


Chad M. Lane sent in some pictures of the first documented occurance of a Long-nosed Snake eating another Long-nosed Snake.

Michael Gatti sent in a picture of a San Diego Nightsnake from Santa Barbara County.

William Mays found a California Giant Salamander sitting on a rock beside a creek in Marin County and sent in a pic.

Dave Feliz sent in some pics of striped Pacific Gophersnakes from Yolo County

Edgar Ortega sent in a picture of a bright red California Red-legged Frog.

Ceal Klinger donated some nice pictures of a Desert Striped Whipsnake, a group of post-hibernation Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frogs, a gravid female Great Basin Collared Lizard, and some Great Basin Spadefoots from Mono County.

Some new sounds: Amargosa Toad, Sonoran Green Toad, Rocky Mountain Toad, and Canyon Treefrog - with pictures, too.


Lori Paul sent some pictures taken by Loni Ferr of herps that escaped the recent Station Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, including a California Striped Racer eating a juvenile of the same species, and a Coastal Rosy Boa that did not move from its resting spot near a trail used by fire crews.

An unusually marked Coast Gartersnake from Del Norte County from Alan Barron.

Ricky Grubb sent in a wonderful picture of a Sierra Nevada Ensatina brooding her eggs.

Lots of pictures and video of Chiricahua Leopard Frogs from Arizona.

Short videos of a bunch of Cascades Frogs hanging out along a creek on a sunny day in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Plateau Tiger Whiptails from Utah in May and a New Mexico Whiptail from New Mexico.

Sonoran Earless Lizard pics

Some new Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake video and pics.

Giant Spotted Whiptail from Tucson

Video of a bunch of Amargosa Toads doing what toads do at night when pursued by bright lights. More of that pure movie magic you have come to expect from


Ever since I began wandering around outside looking for herps many many years ago, the one I most wanted to see in the wild was a Gila Monster. Year after year, during the best times in May and during the July and August monsoons, I traveled to Arizona, walked up washes in the morning and drove at night on roads that ran through good habitat. I was never specifically looking for Gila Monsters, but these are the conditions in which most people see them, along with other herps. I talked to many people who had just seen one in the same area I was in, but I never had any luck seeing one out of captivity, not even one dead on the road. Then, one afternoon in late August , in a populated area in the Chiricahua Mountains, I was standing in a parking lot in front of my car watching hummingbirds at some feeders, when someone shouted "What kind of lizard is that that just crossed the road and went under that car?" pointing to my car. Since it was cold, cloudy, raining, and 1:30 in the afternoon, I thought it must be some small diurnal lizard trying to get out of the rain. When I crouched down and looked under my car, I found my self face to face with a large adult Gila Monster. It was neither the time of day, nor the weather conditions, nor the place where I had imagined seeing one, but that's herping for you. It turned out they love those conditions. To further my luck, a man was standing nearby who had a permit to handle wild Gila Monsters and who had experience handling them, so he was able to pick it up and take it back across the road and away from all the people, dogs and cats, and potentially deadly traffic. Here are a few pictures and a short video of that Reticulate Gila Monster.

Pics of the Jemez Mountains Salamander from New Mexico.

A bunch of pics and a short video of a beautiful little juvenile Mountain Skink from southern Arizona with orange head striping and a two-tone electric blue tail.

Pete Trenham contributed some nice pictures of Western Spadefoot eggs from last spring in Monterey County.

Ross Padilla sent in some pics of an unusual Riverside Dotted morph California Kingsnake, and, when he contacted Byron De Stouet who let me use his picture of a California Kingsnake with a "Zipper" pattern.

Pictures and video of Sonoran Green Toads calling at night and a video of one eating a bug. That's right, a toad eating a bug. What did you expect on this site, Zooey Deschanel?

Pictures and video of some of the last remaining Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs from the San Gabriel Mountains and pictures of some beautiful Cascades Frogs from Siskiyou County.

A short video of a couple of male Plateau Fence Lizards  fighting and doing pushups.

Samantha Zahringer sent in pictures of  a Red Coachwhip eating a San Diego Alligator Lizard on her back porch.

Video of a couple of Wandering Salamanders that I found next to a creek in the redwoods.


Chris Morrison contributed a picture of a nice looking Great Basin Rattlesnake from Mono County.

Tammy Lim sent in a couple of pictures of an Alameda Striped Racer that nicely illustrate the ?key features of this subspecies.

Brace yourself, I have finally put up a bunch of Arizona Toad sounds that I recorded in May.

More summer blockbusters:  A friendly Baja California Brush Lizard; some Northern Sagebrush Lizards, a couple of Coast Gartersnakes,  some Zebra-tailed Lizards close-up, an aquatic Desert Rosy Boa, a feisty California Kingsnake, a Desert Glossy Snake, some Belding's Orange-throated Whiptails, a Northern Leopard Frog, and a female Western Side-blotched Lizard doing some home renovation.

Pics of a couple of unusual Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes that Mike Waters found in Kern County - one nearly all black, the other with several merged blotches.

Jonathan Hakim sent in some pics of a Southern Watersnakes from Harbor City in Los Angeles. Another first.

A Mt. Lyell Salamander from Placer County contributed by Steve Zimmerman.

Jonathan Hakim found a Snapping Turtle crossing a trail in Orange County and let me use his pictures for the first illustration on this web site of a snapping turtle found in California.

A couple of movies of Western Sagebrush Lizards from Mt. Diablo, including a male attacking a gravid female. Is there no chivalry left in the lizard world?

John Worden contributed a couple of nice pictures of a Santa Clara County Northern Pacific Rattlesnake in defensive pose, a California Nightsnake from San Jose, and a California Whiptail from near Gilroy.

A short video of a Southern Desert Horned Lizard that would do nothing for the camera except sit still and run so fast it was just a blur.

A short video of several Northern Desert Iguanas in the Anza-Borrego desert. One pops out of a hole. How's that for excitement?

I have finally and reluctantly followed what seems to be the currently accepted taxonomy by splitting the species Pseudacris regilla into three species: Pseudacris regilla, Pseudacris sierra, and Pseudacris hypochondriaca hypochondriaca. This necessitated adding a few more pictures and sound recordings, and I will have to add more in the future when I get them to more completely cover the three species.

Grab a big bag of popcorn, here's a movie of a juvenile Variable Groundsnake I flipped in May, crawling around near the Colorado River in Imperial County.

Northern Leopard Frog pics from Utah. A real beauty, too, in a beautiful setting. Wish I was there right now...

An anerythristic Long-nosed Snake picture from Inyo County sent by Chris Morrison.

Video of Yellow-backed Spiny Lizards in SW Utah, including territorial push-ups behavior. After viewing such a powerful display of macho might, I chose another section of fence to sit on...

The summer blockbuster season continues with an epic feature film starring a Diablo Range Gartersnake as it crawls in and around a little cattle pond in Contra Costa County. Two thumbs up.

Video of an Oregon Gartersnake in a river Mendocino County. I stripped down and waded after it, but I still couldn't catch it.

I have added a bunch of pictures of the Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs that Jeff Lemm let me photograph at his captive breeding program at the San Diego Zoo's Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species.

Video of some American Bullfrog tadpoles. It's hard to hate these "invasive pests" when you watch them float around lazily on a sunny day. They look so cute and cuddly, don't they?

A couple of short videos and some pictures of a Northern Rubber Boa found crossing a road on a high mountain pass at sunset.  It had a big chunk out of its body, too. It's a hard life for a slow snake in the mountains...

A short video of a tiny Southwestern Threadsnake from San Diego County in May.

George Chrisman saw and photographed a California Whiptail pretty far north on the San Francisco peninsula near the Los Altos Hills and let me use his photo.

A short video of a California Whiptail.

A video of a Boreal Toad making his release call, telling me to get my filthy hands off of him. After a few takes, I obliged, and he crawled back under his log.

A video showing a Rough-skinned Newt curled up in its passive defensive pose, showing me how poisonous he is. Good thing, too, because I was getting hungry.

New pictures of a Baja California Brush Lizard. This little lady let me follow her around for an hour without running away. Some day maybe I will have similar luck with a female of my species...


Mike X Macrae contributed a picture of a beautiful turquoise male Granite Spiny Lizard from Anza-Borrego.

The rattlesnakes are roaming:  three pictures of Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes including one in a defensive pose in Santa Clara County from Ed Gomez, an unusually red one on the Kern Plateau from Sam Wilson, and a very dark one from the Santa Cruz Mountains from Norbert Fanjat.

Four videos of three Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frogs calling at 9,000 feet on a sunny afternoon. It took me hours to get this much video, but

A Northern Pacific Rattlesnake showing why they call them rattlesnakes. (It's because they rattle.)

A calling Pacific Treefrog makes the one-part enhanced call beside a little high-altitude pond in the Sierra Nevada.

Pictures of a nice bright orange gravid female Western Sagebrush Lizard. She's so full of eggs, she looks like she's about to pop. The male jumped her and almost rolled her off the rock.

A short movie showing a Western Black-headed Snake in motion.

Several pictures and a couple of Desert Night Lizard movies, including one of a detached tail wiggling. I suggest you watch the tail wiggling accompanied by your favorite music.

A short movie of a California Striped Racer that wouldn't move, so I encouraged it to move. Then, of course, it moved so fast, I couldn't get much video.

A movie of a big Desert Tortoise crawling back into its burrow.

Several movies of a feisty Pacific Gopher Snake posturing defensively, shaking and buzzing its tail, and hissing and striking repeatedly. You can even hear him get me once.

More short videos - a California Alligator Lizard crawling and climbing, and an encounter between a male and a female Common Side-blotched lizard.

I never liked most of my pictures of Western Zebra-tailed Lizards. Getting good pictures of pale lizards in white sand in direct sunlight is not easy. I have added some new ones that are much better, largely because a cold spell slowed them down and let me get up close.

Keith Condon sent in a picture of a Western Red-tailed Skink from the Granite Mountains in the eastern Mohave.

Ryan Martin contributed a picture of a colorful young Chuckwalla.

Kelly Mathson sent in a picture of two Shasta Alligator lizards fighting.

Aaron Wells contributed pics of a Long-nosed Snake and a Western Red-tailed Skink from San Diego Coastal sage habitat, and a tiny Desert Tortoise juvenile from San Bernardino County.

Short video of a beautiful Red Coachwhip in the Anza-Borrego desert. I don't know who was more surprised, me or the snake, when I walked up on it. Took him a few minutes to see me before he raced away.

Some nice pics of Desert Spiny Lizards from Utah, including several displaying males, and from CA, including a bee eater.
Also some video of two spiny lizards from Riverside County meeting on the trunk of a tree and greeting each other with a series of push-up displays, nuzzling, posing and chasing each other.
Also some Desert Iguanas.

In my latest film, a large old male Chuckwalla gets a little sun, does some pushups, eats some tasty bushes, then poops.
Do I hear Oscar buzz?

A striped California Kingsnake crosses a dirt road and vibrates its tail like a rattlesnake.

Guntram Deichsel sent in a picture taken by Leslie Schreiber of a mass emergence of Valley Gartersnakes and Wandering Gartersnakes from Wyoming.

I have removed the comparsions with the Stebbins and the CNAH taxonomy from my CA state lists, simplifying the lists and making them easier to read. It's too much work trying to keep up with the changes to the CNAH list. You can easiy go to their web site and do it yourself.


Forget the summer blockbusters, here's an action movie with Black Toads crawling around in the water at night, and another one with a toad eating something. It doesn't get more exciting than that.

Pictures of several Long-nosed Leopard Lizards seen on the road one morning in Inyo County. One is actually not so bad. Love that asphalt background...

Pictures of a tiny red-striped Ground Snake from near the Colorado River. A cute little worm.

Several videos and lots of pictures of Arizona Toads from Utah partying down at the breeding grounds.

Videos and pics of a huge old Red Diamond Rattlesnake shaking its tail
and a Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake doing the same.

Finally! I have my own pictures of a Western Black-headed Snake, thanks to Jeff Lemm who let me help him check his survey traps, where we also found a nice banded/striped California Kingsnake, a Southwestern Threadsnake (Blind Snake) and Belding's Orange-throated Whiptails.

Lots of new pictures of Amargosa Toads, tadpoles, and habitats. It's a festival of toads.

Movies of some Rio Grande Leopard Frogs calling in the girls at night in Imperial County.

A couple of pics of some nice juvenile Panamint Rattlesnakes from Inyo County from Chris Morrison.

Michael Clarkson contributed pictures of a Two-striped Gartersnake at the edge of its range in the desert at Victorville, a defensively-posed Desert Night Snake, and a nice Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake.

Steve Bledsoe sent in some nice pics of male and female Desert Spiny Lizards from the Kingston Mountains. (No, I still have not adopted the 3 species theory of Sceloporus magister. He also contributed a Great Basin Fence lizard showing lots of orange underneath.

A nice sub-adult Desert Rosy Boa I found swimming at the edge of a creek one night while recording Arroyo Toads. No wonder I can never find them - I didn't know they're aquatic!

Nice close pictures of a Coastal Whiptail in hand.

New videos of a Red-spotted Toad calling at night. He was the only one calling in the pond for several nights, but the ladies just weren't iterested.

Now you can enter the weird underwater world of the African Clawed Frog. I have added three recordings of these bizarre sounding frogs made during the day and at night. But would they let me take any pictures of them? Of course not.

I have added some pictures of a male Arroyo Toad, including one of him calling at night, a short video of him calling, and a sound recording made two nights previously that might be the same toad since he seemed to be the only one around.

John Reinsch contributed pictures of Texas Spiny Softshells from Kern County, and informed me of their presence in Kern County and of a USGS article showing their presence elsewhere in California. I have updated my range maps, also.

Jennifer Rycenga contributed a picture of a Merced County Pacific Gopher Snake crawling across a road.

Susannah Goldston sent in a picture of a strikingly red-striped Coast Gartersnake from the Santa Cruz County redwoods.

Chris Morrison contributed some pictures of a beautiful Desert Rosy Boa and a juvenile Mohave Glossy Snake, both from Inyo County.

I have put up a bunch of pictures of Black Toads and their habitat.

I have finally put up some herp pictures from India (taken with a point-and-shoot because the only Canon lens I had with me suddenly failed. (Always bring a spare!)

Indian Rock Python
Royal Diadem Ratsnake
Southern Indian Cricket Frog
Common Indian Toad
Common Tree Frog
Forest Calotes
Indian Garden Lizard
Yellow-green House Gecko
Kashmiri Rock Agama
Bengal Monitor


After a long hiatus in a distant universe, I'm finally adding more content to the site:

Everybody's favorite gadfly, Brian Hubbs, contributed a picture of two color phases of Two-striped Garter Snakes from Ventura County.

New movies of a distant Northern Leopard Frog calling on a sunny afternoon, along with some pictures of frogs in the breeding pond and a bunch of new sound recordings of a group of frogs at night in Washington.

Van Joshua Wishingrad sent in a few pictures of Diablo Range Gartersnakes in the water and out.

Brian Rains sent in a picture taken by his wife Nao of a beautiful blue displaying male Great Basin Fence Lizard. Why won't they hold still like that for me?

Based on information I got a couple of years ago from western frog researcher Marc Hayes, along with comments in his 1994 survey with Mark Jennings, I have added the Columbia Spotted Frog to the California list.

I have put up 6, yes, 6 movies of Columbia Spotted Frogs calling and chasing each other around in a breeding pond on a sunny day in Central Washington, along with many pictures of breeding frogs and egg masses, and a bunch of sound recordings.

The California Special Animals List information is updated (from the March 2009 List)

Video and pictures of Great Basin Spadefoots (here and here) calling at night.

Alan Barron sent a picture of a Western Yellow-bellied Racer from Del Norte County.

It's the season for fighting lizards - this week I received pictures of three battles and email about another, three of them between San Diego Alligator lizards, including one from Aaron Fitzsimmons, and a series of pictures of fighting male Great Basin Fence Lizards from Jason Rojas.

Ben Smith contributed pics of a Mohave Rattlesnake and a nice yellow Desert Banded Gecko from the eastern Mohave.

Michael Sutcliffe sent in an iPhone picture of a nice pale striped Pacific Gophersnake.

Tom Green let me use some fine pics of a Great Basin Rattlesnake Den site in Nevada.

John Gerhard found some breeding Coast Range Newts in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Bill Stagnaro sent in some excellent pics of California Red-legged Frog egg masses, California Tiger Salamander larvae, and amlexing Pacific Treefrogs.

2009 Regulations page is updated - no changes from 2008.


Jean Taves contributed pictures of a very cool melanistic San Diego Alligator Lizard that was found in the yard.

Ross Padilla contrbuted some pictures of the recently-split species of night snake, the San Diego Nightsnake and an unusual striped intergrade Glossy Snake.

Todd Battey took several pictures of Green Sea Turles in a river in Los Angeles County. These are the first pictures of sea turtles on this web site that were taken in the wild in California waters. Another great way to start the new year.

2009 starts of with a bang! Well, a squeak, anyway, but it's something I've been trying to get for a while - and it's the first salamander sounds on the site: Jonathan Hakim contributed a recording and picture of a little squeaking Arboreal Salamander. He also contributed pictures of Great Basin Fence Lizards from coastal Los Angeles County.

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