A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

New Additions in 2010


observation link

These are some of the new pictures, sounds, and video that I have added to the site in 2010.

The links lead to pages which include thumbnails and other links to the new content. You will have 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 2009 can be seen here.


I've been slowly working on two pages showing all of the herps that are found in the most populous regions of the state, in order to help people identify herps from the areas where most of the requests I get originate. And, aside from fixing the inevitable misakes and adding new video, I think they're finally finished - Herps of the Bay Area and Herps of Coastal Southern California.

Jonathan Hakim let me use some of his pictures of African Clawed Frog tadpoles.

Stuart Young sent in some pictures of pale Monterey Ensatina from Idyllwilde where the large blotched form also occurs.

Chad Lane contributed a photo of another Rubber Boa with unusual black eyes.

Richard Porter contributed a bunch of snake pics, mostly from the Sierra Nevada foothills - California Kingsnake, Western Yellow-bellied Racer, Coral-bellied Ring-necked Snake, Santa Cruz Gartersnake, Pacific Gopher Snake, and a Long-nosed Snake from Contra Costa County, and a Lyre Snake and a Speckled Rattlesnake from the San Diego County mountains.


Jon Hirt contributed pics of some herps from Santa Clara County - California Tiger Salamander and Blainville's Horned Lizard.

Carl Brune sent in pictures of a very weird male Western Zebra-tailed Lizard that has three black stripes instead of two..

Chad Lane found some transformed California Tiger Salamanders near where we documented a pond full of larvae this year in Contra Costa County.

Melissa Newman sent in a bunch of pictures of California Tiger Salamanders that were caught in a pit trap study in Solano County.

Brian Hinds has sent in some nice pictures of a couple of unicolor Coastal Rosy Boas from San Diego County. They look kind of like rubber boa rosies. Rubber rosies, maybe?

I have decided to put up some badly recorded very loud and abrasive alarm calls made by some New Mexico Spadefoots that I found on a road at night in northern Arizona. I was stopping to look for Great Plains Spadefoots, so when I saw they were New Mexco Spadefoots, I tried to shoo them off the road with my foot. (I don't like to touch spadefoots if I don't have to because they can give me a hay fever type reaction.) After one made the sound, the next time I got my microphone ready.  The first two made the sound, but it was recorded too hot and distorted terribly. After I finally lowered the recording level, I could not find another spadefoot that would make the sound. After about a dozen attempts, I gave up. The recordings do sound like a lot like the sounds the spadefoots made.

I have also put up a bunch of pictures of spadefoot tadpoles and metamorphs from Arizona. After trying to figure out whether they were New Mexico Spadefoots or Great Plains Spadefoots, I gave up and just lumped them all together figuring they were probably some of each species.


Brooke Langle and Kevin Crouch sent in some pictures of a really interesting Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from coastal dunes in San Luis Obispo County. It has a patternless body, tail rings, and a pale dorsal stripe, making it look a bit like a gartersnake or a striped California Kingsnake (if you don't look at the tail.)

Jonathan Hakkim sent in some pics of some of a population of Tree Lizards that have been introduced into San Bernardino County. His distribution note on the lizards will be published in December.
Hakim, J. and J. Bass: Urosaurus ornatus symmetricus. Distribution note in Herpetological Review (in press December 2010)

Thanks to Brian Hinds I finally have an example of a California Red-sided Gartersnake from southern CA, also sometimes called the South Coast Gartersnake by those who think it is different from the rest. It's definitely a lot scarcer than the rest.
He also sent in some pics of a very cool pale Monterey Ensatina which seems to be Leucistic.

Tony Covell and Brian Hinds sent over some pictures of a stunning Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, with a patternless black body with band of orange before the rattle. A real Halloween rattler.

I have been given the OK to finally add a new exotic lizard to the site, the Southern Italian Wall Lizard.

An official note about this lizard is in press and will be published in Herp Review. - Deichsel G., Nafis G. and J, Hakim: Podarcis siculus: California. Herpetological Review (in press 2010 ).

Back in April, John Ivanov emailed me at this web site to tell me he saw the lizards in a San Pedro neighborhood and sent me some pictures of them. I contacted Guntram Deichsel, a German expert on the lizards, who I have known for several years. He has documented the spread of Podarcis in many locations in the United States and around the world, although this is the first occurance of this subspecies in the country, and the first documentation of any population of Podarcis in California that we know of. I went to the location, photographed the lizards and took some tail samples. Two weeks later, Guntram arrived from Germany and did the same. The samples were analyzed in New York and in Vienna to determine the species. I contacted Jonathan Hakim who I knew lived close to that area and asked him to survey the area to see how far they had spread. He made several trips, mapped out their apparent range, and took some specimens to deposit in the collection of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. He talked to people in the neighborhood and found out where the lizards came from and who brought them over. Guntram interviewed and found out that he had brought over a group of lizards in 1994 and released them into his yard. This is very cool because we know where they came from and when they were introduced and we can see how far they have spread in 16 years.

Richard Porter sent in some pictures of an axanthic Pacific Ring-necked Snake from Sonoma County.

Some more new videos from earlier this year - Relictual Slender Salamander, Long-nosed Snake, Couch's Spadefoots, and Rocky Mountain Toad release calls. And some Amargosa Toad tadpoles filmed in 2009.


New videos of Coast Range Newt larvae, Red-bellied Newt larvae, Mt. Lyell Salamander, Sierra Nevada Ensatina, Plateau Striped Whiptails, Sonoran Spotted Whiptails, and Arizona Striped Whiptails.

Jonathan Nemati sent in pics of Coast Range newts he found in LA county, and some pictures his friend Jonathan Benson took of a San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake eating an Arboreal Salamander.

Sara Walhovd sent in a cool picture of a San Diego Alligator Lizard with a forked tail.

New sound recordings of Chiricahua Leopard Frogs and Arizona Treefrogs.

Scott and Ken Wiley saw two red or rust colored Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes while hiking in the high Sierras in Sequoia National Park and sent in some photos.

Nathan Smith sent in a couple of pictures of a San Diego Banded Gecks from San Diego County.


Several new videos of Desert Box Turtles in Arizona - including one where the turtles are drinking muddy water and taking their morning mud baths. It's always hard to get pictures or video of turtles doing anything more than hiding in their shells when you walk up to them, but when I shot from inside the car, they were much less concerned and carried on with their activities.

A couple of pics and a video of an Arizona Black Rattlesnake I found last month in the Pinaleno Mountains in Arizona. A black snake on the blacktop at night... it is what it is.

Pictures of a Texas Horned Lizard from New Mexico, including a shot taken after it partially buried itself under a bush to hide from me. Better yet, there are also a couple of pictures of a nice big piece of horned lizard poop that, when crushed, was full of ants. Now you can say that this site is officially full of (censored.)

Pond turtle expert James R. Buskirk has been helping me upgrade my Northern Pacific and Southern Pacific Pond Turtles pages, with more accurate gender and age descriptions where possible, and with new pictures of turtles taken by himself and by Kenji Hayashi in various counties across the state.

A roadcrusing video of a gopher snake that I found while driving. I've been taking some video from inside the car while driving during daylight for a while now, but whenever I have the camera on, I don't see any snakes - until now.

Holly Lane sent in a picture of a beautiful California Red-sided Gartersnake from near Mt. Hamilton in the southeast Bay Area.
The snake was found sitting on a trail with its head elevated, oblivious to the photographer because it was more concerned with a California Kingsnake that was approaching it from some tall grass. The kingsnake was scared off and ran down a hole and the gartersnake escaped with its life. It's interesting to see that T. sirtalis from the south bay have a lot of blue coloring, as they do north of the bay and along the coast. The few I've seen in the East Bay had no blue coloring.

A short video showing several views of a mostly-sedentary Coastal Tailed Frog that I found at a small creek in Oregon, and a tailed frog tadpole that was in a still pool foraging on the rocks in the sun. It attaches its unique sucker-like mouth attached to the glass of a small aquarium.

Three new videos of American Bullfrogs. I set up the camera, then walked around some overflow ponds in Arizona which were overcrowded with sub-adult frogs in order to film them as they all jumped in or out of the water or ran across the surface and made their alarm calls in a shrieking mass. It was way too much fun. Then I got some interesting shorline behavior where they jumped around, making faint chirping and grating sounds I'd never heard before. As I was getting a solo shot of one, it suddenly ate a large grey beetle.

Something new for the site - pictures of Red-bellied Newt larvae, from the same stretch of creek where I photographed breeding activity in March. Recruitment is a wonderful thing. I have also added more pictures of Coast Range Newt larvae.

As I was photographing a gopher snake on a road in the afternoon in Siskiyou County lava rock and sagebrush country, I saw a Great Basin Rattlesnake crossing about 40 yards up the road. I ran as fast as I could, and got to it as it crawled under a bush, coiled up, and let me get lots of video of it rattling. Now I've got video of all the California rattlesnake species, though some could use improvement.

A Sonoran Gopher Snake hisses up a storm in a new short video. This one was huge - 6 foot at least.

Several videos of Mexican Hog-nosed Snakes blowing and hissing and playing dead.

I took a quick drive up a canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains to try to get some sound and video of a rattling Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, and sure enough, I found one on the edge of the road about to get crushed by a dozen motorcycles. It wasn't in the mood to rattle much for me but it did perform a short solo.

I've been in AZ Hognose Heaven lately, where Desert Box Turtles bathe early in the morning and tiny juvenile Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes are too big to fit into my lens, and where Arizona Black Rattlesnakes blend in with the pavement at night because I couldn't move it off the road to shoot it.

Bob Herrmann has photographed the flora and fauna of Cochise County extensively and he generously let me put on the site some amazing behavioral shots he took recently - a Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake eating a dove, and a Yarrow's Spiny Lizard eating some kind of a bug.

Zach Mumbach found a Coast Gartersnake eating a bird on Montara mountain in Pacifica. Aaron Reif took a photo and sent it in.


James R. Buskirk discovered a new location for Pigmy Horned Lizards in Siskiyou County and sent in pictures of one of the lizards and its habitat.

I finally managed to get some shots of Arizona Whiptails on the Wilcox Playa.

A little Twin-spotted Rattlesnake only let me get a few shots in one position before it dove back into the rocks.

Here's a ton of new pictures and videos of breeding Arizona Treefrogs, their eggs, and habitat. This was the first time I'd seen this species, and for some reason, I thought they were secretive and hard to see. Not during breeding season! There were hundreds, the noise was deafening, and I'm certain some of them wanted to mate with my feet.

A Narrow-headed Gartersnake on the rocks above a creek. A video shows it jerking its body and springing onto the ground where it jerks again, then crawls into a crack. Non-stop action excitement.

A Variable Skink. First one I've ever been able to photograph, and it only let me take one shot in the clear before it evaporated into thin air.

A beauty of a black and white Long-nosed Snake from the outskirts of Tucson.

New pictures and video of Lowland Burrowing Treefrogs, including calling males, and a frog eating some of the millions of bugs that crawled all over the ground and all over me on a hot humid night in the Arizona desert. Good times for all.

At the same spot as the Lowland Burrowing Treefrogs were many Couch's Spadefoots and a bunch of Sonoran Desert Toads, the species that I was searching for, hoping to record them calling. Unfortunately, these guys were silent, probably because of all the other frog noise. But I did got some video of them nevertheless, including some release call antics.

Video of a California Glossy Snake from Alameda County.

Seth Coffman sent in pics of a Wandering Gartersnake from Inyo County near Bishop. I have only one other example of this subspecies from California, and it looks more like an intergrade.

Julia DiRienzo sent in a picture of a Sierra Gartersnake from the east side of the Sierra Nevada in Mono County.

Terrence Howe contributed a picture of an amelanistic Pacific Gopher Snake he found in Placer County.

A short video of an active Pacific Ring-necked Snake in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Here's a new video of thousands of tiny California Toads hopping around on the bank of their breeding pond. It's the exact same spot where I recorded and photographed adults breeding back in March. It's great to see the abundant result of all that calling and amplexing and all those eggs.

Debbie Frost sent in some pictures of a Long-nosed Leopard Lizard she photographed in Lassen County.  She also contributed pictures of a Sierran Treefrog and a Great Basin Gophersnake (or intergrade) from Lassen County.

Scott Peden found an unusual patternless San Francisco Alligator Lizard in Santa Cruz County.

Todd Battey contributed pictures of three San Diego County Baja California Coachwhips, two of which were found by Bob Applegate, who does not like trespassers, so you kids stay off his lawn!

Here's a short video of a Panamint Alligator Lizard that I found in June resting a couple feet up in some dead branches. I followed him around as he slowly moved to get away from the annoying guy with the camera, probably hoping his cryptic pattern would keep him hidden. He hopped on a tree trunk but when that didn't fool me, he jumped back into the dead branches. Eventually, he slowly dropped and hung on by his hind feet and tail for a few minutes, then dropped into the leaf litter and ran into a hollow under a tree. Of course, I didn't get that last part recorded.

Video taken last March of some Western Spadefoot tadpoles swimming around and feeding on the surface of a muddy rain puddle in Alameda County. This is riveting stuff. A real Summer Blockbuster. And the B movie is some eggs and a couple of spadefoots in amplexus underwater in a rocky creek bed. And there's yet another one of a juvenile found at night.


Pictures and video of some California Tiger Salamander larvae swimming around and trying to eat tadpoles in a murky Contra Costa County pond. I've known about this little pond for many years, and I've seen Sierran treefrogs and California toads breeding and Red-legged frogs feedong in it in the summer, but I didn't know Tiger Salamanders were there until Chad Lane discovered them this year.

John Worden took a great comparison shot of Coast Gartersnakes that shows three different colors and patterns on three snakes that were all found within six feet of each other in San Mateo County.

Don Roberson let me use one of his excellent pictures of a male Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard with pink breeding coloring from Tulare County.

Mark Gary let me use some nice shots of cryptic California Treefrogs blending in perfectly with the granite rock they were resting on.

Terrence Howe asked me where he could find the introduced Northern Watersnakes where he lived in Roseville, so I sent him the location of the museum record along with a request for pictures of the snakes and their habitat. He went to the spot, found the snakes, and sent me some pictures. I could get used to this armchair herping. It would save a lot of gas money.

A pretty juvenile Mount Lyell Salamander I found at 9,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada.

A Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake from the slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Inyo County.

A Northern Rubber Boa from Mt. St. Helena discovered mid day resting on a piece of wood in the shade.

Some Sierra Fence lizards from 6,200 ft. in the Sierra Nevada. (That's just a bit low for this subspecies, but there is no way these were San Joaquin Valley fence lizards.)

Northern Sagebrush Lizards posing nicely way up at 9,300 ft. on White Mountain, Inyo County, and a male Great Basin Fence Lizard displaying his throat dewlap.

Some new pictures and video of a Panamint Rattlesnake from Inyo County, and some new pictures of a Panamint Alligator Lizard that I spotted lounging on some dead branches.

Mark McCormick sent me a very cool series of pictures of a San Diego Alliator Lizard biting onto the neck of a California Striped Racer that was probably trying to eat the lizard. The lizard eventually won the standoff.

Two more California Glossy Snakes and a California Nightsnake from Alameda County.

A Pacific Ring-necked Snake from Santa Clara County.

Breeding Marin County Pacific Gopher Snakes and a San Mateo County Northern Rubber Boa with very unusual black eyes, from Natalie McNear.

Pictures of a California Glossy Snake and a Western Black-headed Snake from Alameda County, found by John Worden and his crew, and a juvenile Western Spadefoot, probably one that was born this year.

A California Tiger Salamander larva from Contra Costa County and a nice Sierra Mountain Kingsnake from El Dorado County both from Chad M. Lane.

Richard Brewer sent in some pictures of a beautiful adult albino San Diego Gophersnake that he saved from a plow.

I was not able to get video of calling Rocky Mountain Toads in southern California this spring, because the calling males stopped every time they were in the spotlight, but I did finally find some cooperative toads in south central Washington this month. You can find links to three videos at the bottom of this page.

Keith Condon contributed pics of Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes, a Panamint Rattlesnake, a Desert Spiny Lizard, and a Gilbert's Skink from the Kingston Mountains.

Scott Shoemaker sent me a nice picture of a gravid female Southern Sagebrush Lizard.


Finally, Richard Hoyer and Chris Feldman have published a description of the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake, a new species of snake that occurs mostly in Calfornia which I have showed here as the Long-tailed form of the Sharp-tailed Snake based on information received from Richard Hoyer 10 years ago. Congratulations to their success after long and hard work!

Chad Lane contributed a picture of a Santa Cruz Gartersnake with a brilliant yellow stripe.

Harold De Lisle sent a picture of the holotype of the Desert Slender Salamander. There are very few pictures of this salamander online or in print, so this is a very welcome addition to the site.

Cheryl Haga sent in photos of a pair of breeding Western Yelow-bellied Racers she found in her yard.

New videos of breeding Coast Range Newts from January and February.

A California Striped Racer and a California Mountain Kingsnake from El Dorado County from Chad Lane.

Richard and Alexus Cazares sent in some pictures of a crazy morph of California Kingsnake from San Diego County - the 75 percent blotched morph, and a very pale Lyre Snake from San Bernardino County.

Joel Lingenfelter sent in pics of a nice very red Panamint Rattlesnake from Death Valley.

Chad Lane sent in pics of Chuckwallas and a Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake from Riverside County.


A few new pictures of a couple of the non-native Southern Watersnakes from Harbor City and pics and video of the San Gabriel River Green Sea Turtles.

I put up a new video of a California Alligator lizard, found in March, that dropped its tail. The video shows it wriggling on the ground to distract a would-be predator. I don't know if this strategy works, but the moving tail distracted me for at least 5 minutes.

The Black Toads were in a breeding frenzy. I have added lots of pictures of toads on the breeding grounds and lots of sound recordings and video of breeding toads.

Sean Kelly sent in an outstanding series of pictures of a San Diego Alligator lizard fighting off a crow. The lizard survived!

A San Diego Nightsnake coiling defensively, contributed by Steven Krause.

New pics of a Mohave Patch-nosed Snake from Inyo County. I finally got my hands on a live one. Of course, it would not sit still for photos...

A Chuckwalla ran into a crack before I could photograph it. I took advantage of the situation and pointed a remote flash into the crack and got a few photos of the lizard in its refuge.

I have started putting up some very cool videos and sound recordings of California Toads in their breeding frenzy last month. I was lucky to see them so easily out in the open. A couple of days earlier, they were breeding mostly in the reeds or too far away for me to get a good view of them.

April started with two Desert Patch-nosed snakes on the same trail within 30 feet of each other.


Chad Lane contributed a Santa Clara County California Striped Racer and a Diablo Range Gartersnake eating a Bullfrog tadpole, something I hope they do more often.

Lori Paul sent some pics of a nice Red Diamond Rattlesnake she found in the San Diego County desert.

Carola Bundy found not two, but three mating San Diego Alligator lizards biting onto each other in her yard.

Steve Bledsoe sent in some pics of a mating pair of Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes. It's that time of year...

New pictures and sounds of Lowland Leopard Frogs from north of Phoenix and from Tucson, and a video of a calling frog.

Pond turtles in an Alameda County pond.

A patternless San Diego Alligator Lizard from Richard Cazares and a pair of mating or fighting adults from Liz Kubalek.

Mark Gary discovered some confused California Toads trying to mate with a dead toad. At least, I hope they were confused...

March has been an explosion of breeding California Toads, and I've got loads of new pics, including 3 videos to start off showing release calls and a solo male calling from a creek. More sounds and video to come.

Chad, Devlin, Tub Girl and I did some late winter San Joaquin County tin flipping. 8 Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes were found, including two mating under a piece of tin, two paired up under a dead tumbleweed, and a spunky little brown juvenile.

A California Alligator Lizard loses its tail so I can document its loss. Or so it seemed.

A Diablo Gartersnake found by Chad Lane on the road after sunset at about 50 degrees. Spring is here...

Western Spadefoots and eggs and tadpoles, and a bunch of new recordings..

Edgar Ortega contributed a picture of a nice striped Pacific Gophersnake he found in the city of Napa.

Stuart Young sent in pics of Common Chuckwallas from interesting habitats - volcanic rocks and sandstone.

A San Francisco Alligator Lizard hisses and threatens to bite.

It's the year of the Tiger, so I added lots of new California Tiger Salamander habitat pics, but I didn't find any Tigers except one DOR. Maybe it's not their year after all...

Lots of new pics and videos of Red-bellied Newts and habitat, and a nice Black Salamander, from Mendocino County.

A couple of hours one sunny afternoon with some Sierran Treefrogs in Contra Costa County netted several nice videos of most of their repertoire: advertisement calls, encounter calls, one-part calls, and a nice example of two territorial frogs making agressive calls at each other.

Stuart Young and friends flipped a large piece of granite in San Diego County to find three Red Diamond rattlesnakes under it.

Michael Peters sent in pics of a Variegated Skink from Contra Costa County.

Mike Spencer, along with Val Johnson and Shannon Hoss, sent in some amazing pictures of an angry Arboreal Salamander showing how it rips the flesh of annoying humans with his razor-sharp teeth. They also found a cranky Mendocino County Northwestern Salamander that milked them pretty good.

The new herping regulations go into effect. Same as last years.


Stuart Young sent in a picture of a very pale Monterey Ensatina from San Diego County.

More pics of breeding Coast Range Newts and habitat.

Megan Harris was fortunate to see and hear some California Toads breeding in Los Angeles, taking advantage of the recent rains, and sent in some pictures of amplexing toads and their eggs.

Steven Britton sent in some pics of Sierra Newts breeding habitat and lots of eggs in a creek.

After years of wanting to record the chirping sounds made by both the Arboreal Salamander and the California Giant Salamander, I finally recorded both, with the help of Jeff Rice with the Western Soundscape Arhive. However, neither recording is very satisfying. Both salamanders made very faint sounds, and I have heard louder, so I guess I'll have to keep trying. There's a loud barker out there somewhere.

Taylor Henry sent in pics of a San Diego Ring-necked Snake, San Diego Nightsnakes, Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes, Coast Patch-nosed Snake, and a coastal Longnosed Snake.

Bob Stephens-Doll sent in a picture of a juvenile San Diego Nightsnake.

A new recording of California Red-legged Frogs calling at night in Marin County.

New pictures of several of the usual winter-active herps: California Giant Salamander, breeding Coast Range Newt, Arboreal Salamander, Yellow-eyed Ensatina, Oregon Ensatina, Rough-skinned Newt, and California Alligator Lizard.

Alison Rowe asked for an ID of a Land Planarian, or Hammerhead Worm, and let me use the picture in the snake identification section to illustrate another animal that might be confused for a snake.

Scott Peden contributed pictures of California Giant Salamanders and an ensatina from the area where the Yellow-eyed and Monterey Ensatina intergrade.


All of the frogs descriptions have been revised, with lots of new information.

I have started expanding the Amphibian and Reptiles Declines and Conservation page.

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