A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


observation link

The goal of this web site is to promote public awareness, appreciation, and understanding of California's indigenous reptiles and amphibians and their natural habitats. It is also intended as a source of entertainment for reptile and amphibian enthusiasts.

I am not a scientist. This is a work of journalism, not science - it reports on the nomenclature and natural history and distribution of amphibians and reptiles found in California, as reported by scientists.

This is a Cookie-free site, with no annoying Pop-up ads and No Advertisement of any kind. You're welcome!

When this site was started in 2000, my intention was to try to document all of California's reptiles and amphibians, illustrating the various subspecies or pattern classes and other regional variations and phases, which could not be found easily in print or elsewhere online. It has since grown to include many animals from outside of California that I have photographed, but California is still the core focus of the site.

This site is not affiliated with any institution, organization, or agency.
It has been privately funded and developed, but it has been improved tremendously from contributions by its users. The site is intended for my own education and entertainment, and to help me to connect with others with similar interests. It is not for profit. I used the .com domain during the early years of the world wide web, and later realized that .org would be more appropriate.

I have taken care to make sure the information I show is accurate and complete,
but it might contain mistakes. You should consult primary sources if you need the definitive information. I take no responsibility for any loss or damages incurred by using this web site and the information and illustrations used in it.

This website is continually updated.
The New Additons page will help you keep up with some of the recent changes.

The web site is aimed at anyone who knows the common name or scientific name of a reptile or amphibian found in California who wants to see pictures and a little information about an animal.
It is also for anyone who needs help identifying wild California reptiles and amphibians and learning their common or scientific name. I realize it's not easy for a novice to find a particular animal, but that's unavoidable. I do provide lists of pictures of every animal that can be looked at which might help you find the name of the animal.

I have not footnoted every bit of information.
This is not meant to be a scholarly text, but the majority of the species account information is adapted from other published sources which are either noted in the text or included in a source noted at the bottom of the page under "references."

Please honor the copyright of the sounds and photographs and videos found on this site.
Most are available by a Creative Commons license for noncommercial use. Here are the usage guidelines for this site.

The Scientific and Common Names used here are based mostly on the most recent lists published by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. You can read more about this here.

Most of the herps shown here were found living in their natural habitat in California,
or in neighboring states where many of the same species native to California also occur, including Baja California. The majority of the animals were photographed and left right where they were found. When a herp was handled for close-up photography, measures were taken to avoid stressing or injuring it. Even the most nervous animals will usually calm down with time, allowing a brief time to photograph them, but sometimes cooling them in an ice chest for a few minutes will avoid stressing them unnecessarily. However, very few of the animals shown here were chilled to make them easier to photograph. A few of the animals depicted here are captive specimens from private collections, labs, or museums that I was allowed to photograph, and many photos have been donated or borrowed from the internet with permission and credit.

Most of the pictures illustrating the habitat of a particular species were taken at the exact spot where a member of the species was found.
Some show better-looking or more-easily photographed locations with suitable habitat near where the species was found. (Many species were found at night on a road and the aproximate habitat was photographed at another time in daylight.) Some of the habitat pictures illustrate typical habitat at a location where a species has been reported or is represented by a museum specimen.

Unlike the many so-called nature shows that are so popular now with their over-dramatic wildlife manhandlers who insist on proving their dominance over the biggest and most dangerous animals, the intent here is to show native herps and their habitat, not to showcase the hunter and photographer. Human hands might be shown to give an indication of an animal's size and occasionally people are shown holding animals, but you won't see anyone wrestling crocodiles here.

Range Maps

The range maps are works in progress that are changed whenever I learn of new distribution information for a species. They are an imprecise illustration of the general historical distribution of an animal in California. They are only meant to give a general idea of an animal's range, so do not take them too literally, especially the ranges of subspecies, which never end as abruptly as illustrated here. Most herps are probably no longer found in heavily-developed areas such as urban and agricultural areas, but these areas may still be shown as part of a herp's historical range on the range maps.

These maps have been created by adapting maps and using range information from field guides, scientific papers, museum records, web sites, personal observations and personal communications. In early 2014 I increased the size of all of the maps and added county lines. The county lines have made the maps appear to be more accurate than they are, and they have also encouraged a number of viewers to email me with comments about areas where the ranges are not accurate. That helps me make the maps more accurate, so please email me about any new range information or corrections you discover.

Many species of herps are undergoing serious declines in population and distribution due to loss of habitat.
Some authorities also attribute these losses to collecting since it is apparently easier for them to blame individuals than to tackle the complicated problem of our land-use needs vs. land conservation. I do not want to encourage the collection of wild herps unless there is long-term plan to care for them, but I understand that collecting native herps and caring for them as pets can help develop an appreciation, an understanding, and a respect for them that is not often gained by reading or observing alone. And without this appreciation there certainly would be no popular interest in intelligent conservation and protection of our native herps.

Some of the links to other websites are bad.
I remove them when I find them, but it's impossible to keep up with them all. The only way to avoid bad external links is to get rid of them all. Let me know if you find any and I will try to fix them or remove them.

Very Important Legal Disclaimers

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps

Return to the Top

 © 2000 -