A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

New Additions in 2015


observation link

These are some of the new pictures, sounds, and video that I have added to the site in 2015.

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 2014 can be seen here.


Another Yellow-bellied Sea Snake has been found in California - only the third on record.

Jeff Nordland sent in pictures of an odd Ensatina, probably a hybrid, from Mt. Palomar, a known area of hybridization.


A new paper on the Arboreal Salamander has found 6 genetically distinct clades within the currently-recognized species, with 2 or 3 of them being evolutionarily significant units. Fortunately for my California Herps workload, there was no recommendation that these units are distinct species, or even subspecies (which have fallen out of favor) but that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future. I made an estimated range map for the clades just for fun.

William Flaxington sent me an interesting story of a report of a worm lizard (Bipes) found in central California back in the 1820s which you can read about on my Species of Possible Occurance, Rumors, and Unsolved Mysteries page.

Guntram Deichsel sent if a photo of a Starred Agama in Turkey in a "praying" position, with its hands and feet elevated to keep them from overheating. Some of our desert lizards do this, but in a less exaggerated way. You can see it on the Lizard Behavior page.

Zach Lim sent in some pictures of a Southern Torrent Salamander and its habitat from Mendocino County. For some reason I only had one other picture of a torrent from that county. Time to take a field trip.


Spencer Riffle sent in a bunch of pictures from northern CA and a few from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, including a male Coastal Tailed Frog, a Northwestern Salamander and some great shot of Northwest Salamander eggs, a couple of Red-sided Gartersnakes from Humboldt county, a California Striped Racer from Santa Cruz county, a Northern Desert Horned Lizard and a Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard from Nevada, and a really cool series of pictures of a Valley Gartersnake eating a Boreal Toad in Humboldt County.

Fortunately, Wim de Groot had the patience to watch and photograph a California Whiptail defecating, then the good sense to send me the pictures, knowing how much I would like to see and use them.

Jared Heald sent in some pics of a really interesting rubber boa that has dark markings on it.

After the discovery of a yellow-bellied sea snake on the 15th of this month in Oxnard, I have done some research on the records of this species from California with the help of Dr. Greg Pauly of LACMNH and it appears that this is only the second snake documented from California, the first one being in November, 1972. Both have been in the fall of El Nino years. There have been other locations reported in books, but there don't seem to be any specimens, photographs, or even written descriptions of them to confirm them.

Wim de Groot sent in a great series of pictures of a Foothill Yellow-legged Frog posing for a picture when a fly flew in front of its head and the frog quickly ate it with its large pink tongue.

Lee Hecker sent in lots and lots of great pictures of Northern Pacific Rattlesnake habitat and hibernacula in Humboldt county including pictures of snakes basking just outside the entrances, so many that I decided to make a special section about hibernacula.

Roxanne Mulder sent in pictures of some black, possibly melanistic, American Bullfrogs with orange eyes that she found in her pond.

Alyssa Semerdjian sent in pics of a Coastal Giant Salamander and its habitat fairly far from water in Humboldt county.


I received quite a few reports of Mediterranean Geckos this month but did not use many pictures.
I have also received some more reports of Brahminy Blindsnakes which have been collected and will be examined and, if they prove to be the non-native species, documented, by some Southern California herpetologists who have been tracking them. They're showing up in more places now, including as far north as Bakersfield.

Napa County biologist Jonathan Koehler passed along a photo that Hank Miller sent him showing three large leeches on the shell of a Red-eared Slider.  Apparently it's not uncommon for leeches to suck blood from a turtle's shell.

Grayson B. Sandy sent in pictures of a Coastal Giant Salamander eating a banana slug in Humboldt County. I have several pictures here of California Giant Salamanders eating slugs, but these are the first I have of the northern species eating.


Robert Maurer Jr. sent in a picture of a Northern California Legless Lizard from Lancaster.

Another Mediterranean Gecko, this time from Chatsworth, courtesy of John McManus.

Crystal Baker asked me to identify a Desert Nightsnake she found near Susanville, Lassen County and let me use the picture. I can only find one record of this species from Lassen County, but the exact location is not listed, so this might represent a range extension, although the area is shown on the range map in Alan St. John's field guide.

L. Thomas sent in a picture of a Brown Anole found in Irvine, which is a new location for them, but close to other populations found in Orange County.

William Flaxington contributed pictures of Long-toed Salamanders from the Warner Mountains, Wandering Gartersnakes from Mono and Tularie Counties, and Mountain Gartersnakes from the Warner Mountains and from the San Bernardino Mountains. I also put up a number of his pictures of Baja California herps, including a few that are new to my site list: Carmen Island Zebra-tailed Lizard, Baja California Rat Snake, Baja California Rattlesnake, San Lucan Speckled Rattlesnake, Baja California Nightsnake, Couch's Spadefoot, Red-spotted Toad, California Treefrog, Baja California Treefrog.

Bill Bachman photographed a San Diego Mountain Kingsnake crossing a road in manzanita and chaparral habitat in the Laguna Mountains - not the typical habitat associated with the species.

Victor Calderon sent in photos of a Moorish Gecko from Hanford.

Kevin Lathrop sent in pics of a baby rubber boa from Weed.

Zach Lim sent in pics of a California Giant Salamander eating a bright yellow banana slug.

Douglas Brown sent in a shot of a Granite Night Lizard found near Poway.

Alyssa Semerdjian sent in two cool photographs of two Coastal Giant Salamanders in a stand-off, each biting onto the other one, she found in Humboldt County.


Keith Condon continues to help the site by sending in pictures of several species lizards he photographed in a county previously not very well represented - Mono County - Common Chuckwalla, Great Basin Collared Lizard, Desert Horned Lizard, Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard, and Long-nosed Leopard Lizard.

Julie Latta sent in some pictures of toads she's found lately in her yard near Phoenix - Sonoran Desert Toad and Southwestern Woodhouse's Toad.

Jared Heald sent new pictures of several snakes - a pink juvenile Rubber Boa, a flame phase Coast Gartersnake, a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from a half mile away from the ocean in San Mateo County, a Long-nosed Snake from the innter coast range, and two California Night Snakes from Sonoma County.

Kim Burtnyk found a hatchling side-blotched lizard in her office lobby and sent in a picture showing how tiny then start out.

Wim de Groot sent in a series of pictures of an epic battle between a California Kingsnake and a California Alligator Lizard. He also sent in pics of a pair of courting Skilton's Skinks and a California Alligator Lizard brooding her eggs in the middle of a sunny trail - very strange indeed.

Nick Barrientos sent in a bunch of pics of speckled rattlesnakes from the Santa Ana mountains in Riverside County.

Jacob Anderson sent in pics of Panamint Rattlesnakes from San Bernardino County.

Mark Rothenay photographed some Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizards in early July and sent in some pics.

New pictures of an adult Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog and a tadpole from Glacier National Park.

Nathan Ray sent in pics of a San Diego Mountain King Snake from the Santa Ana Mountains, a new mountain range for the site, along with a California Newt and a Monterey Ensatina from Riverside County.


Nick Barrientos sent in pics of  two long-nosed snakes and a California Glossy Snake from coastal Riverside County, an area not yet represented here.

Nathan Ray sent in pics of a California Glossy Snake from coastal Riverside County, a county not yet represented here.

More pictures Green Anoles which seem to be spreading all over So Cal from Kevin Strong and Caroline Roberti.

Cooper Bailey sent in pictures of herps from areas not yet covered here, including Arboreal Salamanders from the Santa Ana Mountains, a nice green Mojave Rattlesnake from San Bernardino County, and a Long-nosed Snake from Riverside County.

John Aylward let me use his picture of an extremely blue male western fence lizard from Yosemite Valley.

Stuart Young sent more pictures of Baja herps, including San Diego Banded Gecko and Desert Banded Gecko, two male Lyre Snakes in combat (including a very cool video), a California Kingsnake, a Baja California Treefrog, lots of shovel-nosed snakes, a leaf-nosed snake, and a San Diego Nightsnake.

Dave Zeldin contributed pictures of a San Diego Gopher Snake / Sonoran Gopher Snake intergrade.

Northern Sagebrush lizard from a 10,000 ft. peak in Death Valley NP from Peter Treuherz via Stacy Holt.

Monte Lininger sent in a picture for ID of a Moorish Gecko from Hanford.

Douglas Brown sent in pics of some Granite Night Lizards from near Poway - the westernmost location I know about. He also contributed pictures of some Western Side-blotched Lizards mating, a Coast Patch-nosed Snake, a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a California ground squirrel, rosy boas, a striped whipsnake, a speckled rattlesnake, and a San Diego Nightsnake.

Keith Condon sent in a picture of a Great Basin Whiptail from Imperial County with a very faded pattern.

Stuart Young sent me a picture of an Arboreal Salamander from San Diego County. He also sent pics of a lot of Baja California herps including a Rosy Boa, Peninsula Banded Gecko, San Diego Banded Gecko, Chuckwalla, Desert Iguana, Side-blotched Lizard, Central Baja California Banded Rock Lizard, Baja California Brush Lizard, Baja Collared Lizard, Cedros Island Horned Lizard, Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, Desert Glossy Snake, California Lyresnake, and Desert Horned Lizard.

Nick Barrientos sent in pics of 3 Rosy Boas and a San Diegan Tiger Whiptail.

Keith Rowe sent in a pic of a Red Diamond Rattlesnake from Orange County.

Some people have all the luck - Kim Lewis sent in pics of a baby Banded Gila Monster she found by her pool in Las Vegas near Red Rocks, where they are known to occur.

Jason McKinney let me use his photo of a Shasta Alligator Lizard eating a huge Jerusalem Cricket in Mendocino County.

Jared Heald sent in pictures of three Coast Mountain Kingsnakes from Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

Douglas Brown watched and photographed patiently as a Red Racer poked its head in and out of a hole taking about 20 minutes to emerge from a hole barely bigger than it was.


CDFW biologist Marcia Grefsrud sent in some pictures from northern California including a California Newt larva, a very pale California Tiger Salamander larva from Jepson Prairie and another CTS larva cannibalizing a CTS larva from Alameda County and a Blainville's Horned lizard from Corral Hollow.

Bill West found a California Giant Salamander on a Marin County trail on a foggy afternoon attempting to eat a banana slug and sent me a series of pictures.

Black Legless Lizards aren't really supposed to be in Santa Cruz County, but the one Zach Lim found recently near Watsonville and sent me pictures of fits the description. He also sent a recent zonata picture from the same county.

Someone found a Brahminy Blind snake in their house in Chula Vista and sent me pictures of it which they let me use, the first from California on my site so far.

Sean Kelly sent in pics of a Rosy Boa he found basking on his San Diego County driveway, including a picture of it curled into a defensive ball, like a rubber boa.

Nick Barrientos sent in a picture of a very cool looking patternless Wester Side-blotched Lizard from Corona.

Richard Porter found and sent in pictures of a very cool very dark (probably melanistic) Valley Gartersnake that is mostly just red and black in color.

Patrick Briggs contributed a bunch of new pictures of a Monterey Ring-necked Snake, a Gilbert's Skink, male and female Northern Western Pond Turtles, and lots of San Diego, Pacific, and Great Basin gopher snakes.

Wayne Steiger sent in some pictures of a nicely camouflaged SW Speckled Rattlesnake.

Steve Sumioka contributed a great picture of a displaying male Desert Spiny Lizard from near Palm Springs.

Debra Frost sent in a picture of a Great Basin Gopher Snake intergrae from Lassen County.


An anonymous contributer sent me some very cool pictures and videos of breeding California Kingsnakes she photographed and video recorded on her back porch in San Diego County. I wan't sure if it was two males or a male and female, but Brian Hubbs, author of the book "Common Kingsnakes" told me it was a male and female.

Mr. Pond Turtle himseld, Brian Hubbs, sent me some more pictures of Northern and Southern Western Pond Turtles, including some beautiful piebald males.

Randy Pickard sent some pictures of a Coast Gartersnake eating a salt water fish stranded in a tide pool on a rocky beach below the high tide mark at the elephant seal rookery in SLO County.

Jeff Ahrens contributed a bunch of pictures of Western Spadefoots their eggs and habitat from LA and Ventura Counties.

Tara de Silva sent me some pictures of Western Spadefoots from her State Park study area in Corral Hollow.

Jeff Nordland sent in pictures of a Baja Night lizard he found at Scissors Crossing in San Diego County and another from the same location that he determined was a Desert NIght Lizard, but could be a Baja NL. (We need some portable DNA testing kits we can take into the field now.)

Robert Hamilton sent in some Two-striped Gartersnake pictures from Orange County, where there don't seem to be too many of them, and some great pictures of two male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a wrestling match with a link to his YouTube video of the same snakes.

Luke Talltree sent in some gartersnake pictures taken in extreme northeastern Sonoma County where the Mountain Gartersnakes are blue and the aquatic gartersnakes seem to be Oregon Gartersnakes.

Debra Frost sent me some lizard pics from the northern part of their range in California, including the first picture of a Great Basin Collared Lizard from that part of the state on this site, and some more Northern Desert Horned Lizards. Looks like they become active in April in that part of the state.

Connor Long is helping me get better coverage of Sacramento County with some Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes and a Ring-necked Snake.

Ultrarunner Shane Caver noticed a stronghold of Coast Horned Lizards in the hills of San Diego County as he ran, but this time he found one being eaten by a Red Diamond Rattlesnake and sent me some pictures.

Jared Heald sent in some pictures of a California Night Snake he found in the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma County. That's the first one I've seen from their range north of the Bay Area. And a couple of beautiful Coast Mountain Kingsnakes from Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties.


Sheri Lubin let me use her picture of a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake eating a ground squirrel in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Scott Peden sent in some great pics of a Coast Gartersnake eating a California Towhee, and a Coast Mountain Kingsnake.

A whole lot of pictures from Ryan Sikola from Kern County - Temblor Legless Lizards, and Bakersfield Legless LizardsNorthern and Southern California Legless Lizards, including a nice dark one from the south-central coast, Gilbert's Skink, Chuckwalla, Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard, a Sierra Nevada Ensatina, Ring-necked, Shovel-nosed, Gopher, Leaf-nosed, Black-headed, California King, and California Mountain King snakes, Rosy Boa, Panamint and Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, including an oreganus from a canyon in the desert on the east side of the southern Sierra Nevada, and a crazy black and white Long-nosed Snake from Inyo County.

I never received any reports of Asian Beauty Rat Snakes on the loose in California until I got two reports in just three days, from the Bay Area and from Ventura County. Both looked to be about 7 feet long. What a surprise to find one of those on your lawn.

Dominic Poole sent in a picture of a California Toad with white toxins emitted from its paratoid gland. I was surprised I didn't have a picture of this already.

Leslie Hurlburt sent me pics of two mating California Alligator Lizards she found in the middle of the city of Sacramento.

Sherry Adams with Audubon Canyon Ranch sent me several pictures from one of their preserves in Sonoma County - Foothill Yellow-legged frogs, including amplexing adults and eggs, California Newts, a Black Salamander, and a California Red-sided Gartersnake.

Lots of new pictures:
Salamanders - California Tiger Salamander larvae from me, Mark Gary, and Lou Silva. It's nice to see they survived through the drought, but that's what they're good at. My favorite newt sign yet, California Newts including one in a hole next to the breeding pond, a big fat Yellow-eyed Ensatina from Napa County, Oregon Ensatinas, Painted Ensatinas, Del Norte Salamanders, a hatchling Arboreal Salamander, and a huge monstrous-looking Santa Cruz Black Salamander.
Frogs - California Toad tadpoles, Sierran Treefrogs, Northern Red-legged Frog eggs.
Lizards - Temblor Legless Lizards, and Bakersfield Legless Lizards, Coast Range Fence Lizard, San Francisco Alligator Lizard, a juvenile California Whiptail, Red-tailed Skinks.
Snakes - Rubber Boas, a Coast Gartersnake, and a California Red-sided Gartersnake.

Mediterranean Geckos from Jeff Nordland.

Steve Bird send in pictures of sideblotched and fence lizards from Santa Cruz Island.

Huntington Beach Green Anoles from Carol Robertson

Some great shots of a calling Western Spadefoot from Jon Hirt.

A pair of Sharp-tailed snakes living under the front door mat from Robert O'Brien.

I didn't think anybody looked at my gratuitous lists of herps in movies, and that's ok, it's just for my entertainment, but somebody told the scuptor who made the rattlesnake door handle for A Million Ways to Die in the West that I had a page showing the handle, and she sent me a picture of the original sculpture for the handle. That's the kind of feedback I like - just as long as it's not the movie rights holders telling me I can't show pictures from the film.... (It is "Fair Use" after all.)

I have put up the new Fish and Wildlife herping regulations for 2015-2016. They're the same as last year.


John Delgado let me use some of his Northern Pacific Rattlesnake pictures from Lake County, including one with a nice blue background.

Kyle McCann sent in some pics of amplexing Western Spadefoots and juveniles and tadpoles from his study site in San Diego County.

Matt Sjostrom and Jeff Ahrens sent in some pictures of a weird white-sided San Diego Gophersnake they found in Fontana, San Bernardino County.

A trail of wild pigs led Lou Silva up the side of a steep mountain to a pile of bark under which was buried some living treasure - a Coral-bellied Ring-necked Snake.

Jacob Anderson had the good fortune to find a Red Diamond Rattlesnake eating a cottontail rabbit and sent me some pics.

Salamanders and frogs have been showing up around California. I've had requests to identify a few already, along with the usual sharp-tailed snakes and some early-active gopher snakes. An anonymous donor sent me a picture of a very dark juvenile Arboreal Salamander from her Marin county yard.


I was sent a great comparison shot of a Tehachapi Slender Salamander and a Black-bellied Slender Salamander found under a rock together in the Fort Tejon area.

Leslie Bates sent in a picture of a Mediterranean Gecko, one of several found active in a warehouse in Sacramento this month. It's looking like the species can remain active most of the winter in northern California.

Zach Lim let me use some of his pics from a night in Santa Cruz County during the big December 2014 storm of a California Tiger Salamander, Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamanders, and Santa Cruz Black Salamanders

Greg Howard sent in a picture of a Mediterranean Gecko, one of many he found at a location in Contra Costa County where they seem to be established at least since 2009, and pics of legless lizards from the Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County - the only ones I have from that county, which represents the northernmost location for the species.

Brian Hinds contributed another great picture of a California Red-sided Gartersnake from southern California (classified as South Coast Gartersnake, by the CDFW.) So far, he's the only person I know who has ever seen and photographed one. He also sent a habitat shot and some nice pics of Mountain Gartersnakes from the San Bernardino along with a much-needed habitat shot from there.

Jeff Nordland had an outstanding night of San Diego County salamander watching on the 11th, finding three pairs of courting adults- two pairs of Monterey Ensatina, and one pair of Large-blotched Ensatina.

The California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife updated their 2011 Special Animals List this month, and I have conformed my status information to this list.

After working on them on and off for a few months, I have finally finished putting up maps showing the full range of each California species, including the ranges of the various subspecies when I could find them. (It's hard finding range information for Mexico outside of Baja California which is covered by the excellent Grismer book.)  These maps are just meant to be a basic view of each range and are not meant to be as accurate as my California range maps, but I think it's fun to see each animal in its entire context and I learned a lot making them which is why I did it. I have also made a lot of other changes to maps and lists and species descriptions the likes of which I don't normally bother taking the time to list here, so I won't, other than to say that I have conformed a few of my common names to those used on the SSAR 2012 list that I had somehow overlooked. Murphy's or somebody's law now requires that now that I have done that they will publish a new list in 2015 and I'll have to do it all over again....

Good news about the Contra Costa California Tiger Salamander pond that I have been looking at for years with the help of Mark Gary, who lives a lot closer to it than I do - after a couple of years where it remained completely dry for months, it is now full and full of tiger salamander eggs.) Someone else told me they saw a tiger salamander moving on a nearby road at night in the early December big rain storm.) This a great illustration of the survival stragegy of the species, which has evolved to take advantage of wet and dry periods by having the young transform and leave the pond quickly, then stay underground for an extended period.

Karen Cooper sent me some good pictures of alligator and gopher tortoise signs from Sanibel Island in Florida.

Dona Walker sent in pics for me to ID of a very tiny sharp-tailed snake from Sacramento County found in her garage.

Jared Heald sent me some pictures from December that I am just now putting online of California Tiger Salamanders (one with nice bright white markings instead of yellow), a bright red California Red-legged Frog, and a bunch of Sharp-tailed snakes found together after a December storm.

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