A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

New Additions in 2018


observation link

These are some of the new pictures, sounds, and video that I have added to the site in 2018.
Most of these come from other photographers who I want to thank. I'm too lazy to list everything that I add myself.

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, but most of them are usually put at the bottom of the gallery of thumbnails of the featured animal.
The most recent additions to the site are on top of the list found below.
The list of additions to the site in 2017 can be seen here.


Chris Bronny contributed pictures of some very clear California Tiger Salamander tracks in San Benito County mud.

Noah Morales contributed pictures of a side-blotched lizard and habitat from eastern Alameda County.


Cindi Christie/Cyanpixel Photography contributed a picture of a hatchling gophersnake trying to eat a dried up dead fence lizard.

Tadd Kraft - pics of herps from Orange County: Garden Slender Salamander, Bullfrog, Skilton's Skink, Belding's Orange-throated Whiptail, California Whiptail, California Lyresnake, San Diego Gophersnake, San Diego Nightsnake, Red Diamond Rattlesnake, San Bernardino Ring-necked Snake.

Ivan Vershynin - several new to the site herps from Orange County - San Diego Gophersnake, San Diego Nightsnake, Newport morph California Kingsnake, California Toad.

Wayne Darrell Crank Jr. - a juvenile Red diamond rattlesnake.

Matt D'Agrosa and Yvonne Stotler have contributed pictures and a short video of a very cool light-bodied dark-blotched Rough-skinned Newt they found on the northern Oregon coast.


Ryan Wolter contributed the first picture of a Western Yellow-bellied Racer on my site that was found in San Diego County, where the species is rarely seen anymore.

John Kunna contributed a picture of a bright orange California Red-legged Frog tadpole metamorph.

Ryan Sikola found a pair of Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in Santa Barbara County and sent a pic and also contributed a picture of two apparently different subspecies of Ensatina found near each other.

Joel A. Germond contributed a picture of a Green Sea Turtle coming out of the waves on a Costa Rica beach and a bright green juvenile Green Iguana.

Yuval Helfman contriubted a shot of an Inyo County Chuckwalla.


Jonathan Hakim contributed a bunch of pictures of Texas Spiny Softshells, a Colorado River Tree Lizard, Western Red-tailed Skink, Greater Brown Skink, Inyo Mountains Slender Salamanders, and Black Salamanders from Shasta County.

Wayne Crank sent in pictures of two unusually colored rattlesnakes - a Southwestern Speckled and a Southern Pacific.

Jared Heald contributed pictures of two very cool California Mountain Kingsnakes, one with very pale red, and a huge one that looks like a milksnake, sort of, and a California Red-legged Frog found in the middle of the redwoods - not a very typical habitat for the species.

Ryan Sikola contributed pictures of a Foothill Yellow-legged Frog from San Luis Obispo County, some Greenhorn Mountains Slender Salamanders from Tulare County, a San Diego Nightsnake from Santa Barbara County, a central coast Coast Mountain Kingsnake, a California Mountain Kingsnake from San Mateo County, and a nice and unusual melanistic Two-Striped Gartersnake from San Luis Obispo County.

Barry Mastro contributed a picture of a Baja California Spiny Lizard with a very crazy tail regeneration situation.

M. Johnson contributed pictures of a Mountain Gartersnake eating a bat in Plumas County. I can't find any information about terrestrial gartersnakes or any gartersnakes eating bats, so this is either an unusual observation or I'm no good at research.


Yuval Helfman contributed a picture of a brown and yellow California Kingsnake from San Benito County.

Joel A. Germond contributed pictures of adult and juvenile Southwestern Pond Turtles, and very cool pictures of a Red-tailed Hawk flying with a San Diego Gophersnake in its talons.

Grayson B. Sandy sent in pics of a Northwestern Pond Turtle from Trinity County.

Cooper Bailey contributed pictures of a beautiful little albino San Diegan Tiger Whiptail found in coastal Riverside County.

I have added the three new Shasta Salamanders to the list - Hydromantes shastae, Hydromantes samweli, and Hydromantes wintu.

I have removed the Oregon Alligator Lizard subspecies and changed the common names of the California Alligator Lizard to the Forest Alligator Lizard and of the San Diego Alligator Lizard to the Woodland Alligator Lizard. The ranges of these subspecies also changed.

Joel A. Germond contributed some pictures of cannibalism - an adult Coast Range Fence Lizard eating a baby fence lizard.

Melinda Mohamed contributed pictures of a Western Spadefoot found trapped in a swimming pool.

Matt Willis contributed several pictures of American Bullfrog tadpoles and juveniles from San Luis Obispo County.

Emily Mastrelli contributed pictures of female Arroyo Toads in and near a breeding creek, some great pictures of Desert Tortoises, including one eating, and two pairs of adults mating, Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes mating and a juvenile by its den site, a juvenile Northern Mohave Rattlesnake, and a Desert Striped Whipsnake.

Barry A. Rader sent in a picture of a colorful San Diego Alligator Lizard hatchling.

Jason Nichols contributed pictures of a Desert Spiny Lizard and two male Southern Sagebrush Lizards in combat.


Joel A. Germond sent in a report with pictures of a California Whiptail observed much closer to the coast than the records and range maps typically show. He also sent in a picture of some Southwestern Pond Turtles.

Kurt Geiger contributed pictures from Butte and Shasta Counties - a California Whiptail, a Valley Gartersnake, and a striped morph California Kingsnake found in Chico that is obviously an escaped pet.

Tom Van Wagner contributed a picture of a Foothill Yellow-legged Frog looking for love in all the wrong places - in the arms of an American Bullfrog.

John Orrell contributed a picture of a Yellow-bellied Seasnake from Mexico, and a Green Iguana swimming in the ocean in Mexico.

Dorothy Sheldrake and her husband contributed a picture and a video of two male San Diego Gophersnakes wrestling on a road last May.

Dave Hood let me use some pictures he sent me to identify a snake that looked like a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, but had no rattles. It turned out to be a rattlesnake that was missing its rattles.

Mark Gary contributed pictures of neotenic Tiger Salamanders from a high mountain lake in Utah, and some Plains Spadefoot tadpoles from North Dakota, which I've put on my Southwest spadefoot page because North Dakota is southwest of somewhere, right? He also gave me some pictures of native American lizard petroglyphs from dinosaur national monument for my collection.

Brian Hubbs contributed some pictures of California Toad and California Treefrog tadpoles that I've made some comparison photos with.


John Nalevanko contributed a photo of a Moorish Gecko basking next to a fence lizard in San Diego County.

Timothy E. Robinson contributed som pictures of a little juvenile Southern California Legless Lizard that was found on the crawl on a mountain trail at 6:30 PM.

Donald Kendig contributed a picture of a Sierra Gartersnake from Fresno County.

Jamie Ingersoll contributed a picture of a Garden Slender Salamander he found in Palm Springs.

Francesca Heras contributed pictures of Blainsville's Horned Lizards, a California Striped Racer up a tree, a California Alligator Lizard, and a Baja California Treefrog, all from Santa Barbara County.

Joel Germond contributed pictures of Blainsville's Horned Lizard and California Striped Racer from Morro Bay sand dunes.


It's that time of year again. Stacy Schenkel sent in pictures of courting Side-blotched Lizards.

Chris Rombough contributed video of a group of Rough-skinned Newts in a lake in Oregon feeding on largemouth bass eggs.

Harry Moffett contributed pics of a Coast Patch-nosed Snake from the Santa Monica Mountains, and a Two-striped Gartersnake from all the way up in Monterey County. I know they're there, but I've never seen one from that far north.

Joel A. Germond contributed pictures of herps from San Luis Obispo County - a Monterey Ring-necked Snake, and a California Whiptail.

Proving that Mother Nature disregards endangered species designations, Mark Gary contributed a great series of pictures of a Diablo Range Gartersnake eating a threatened California Tiger Salamander larva in the little Contra Costa County pond we have been documenting for years.

Larry Bowman contributed a picture of a juvenile Mediterranean Gecko that was killed by a brown widow spider in Newport Beach.

Pamela Delgado and Brooke Lange contributed pictures of an Aquatic Gartersnake eating a Ranid frog.

Rod photographed and took some video of a mating ball of Mountain Gartersnakes in Placer county and contributed them to the site.

I've conformed my conservation status listings of all California species to the CDFW's April 2018 Special Animals List.
There are almost no changes - Ensatina klauberi and Plethodon stormi are both slightly less threatened according to NatureServe, and Rana cascadae is now a CESA Endangered Species Candidate.

Rose Brennan contributed a nice picture of a Snapping Turtle in its habitat that she observed near Sebastopol.

Zach Lim contributed a bunch of excellent pictures: Western Spadefoot, Speckled Black Salamander, Variegated Skink, Blainville's Horned Lizard, Pacific Gopher Snake, Mohave Patch-nosed Snake, and Panamimt Rattlesnake.

Andrew Louros sent in pictures of two Skilton's Skinks from the Palos Verdes peninsula that lack the dark stripes typically found on the species.

I have changed Urosaurus nigricaudus to Urosaurus microscutatus, which it was about ten years ago.


Douglas S. Brown contributed pictures of and a link to a bunch of pictures of two Great Basin Fence Lizards in spectacular breeding colors fighting over territory.

Jeff Nordland contributed an amazing short video of a Desert Threadsnake searching for then finding some ants moving their eggs and then attacking them.

A paper has been published that splits Hydromantes shastae into three species. It's been expected for a long time and I have no doubt it's a valid split. I have put up some information and a map of the ranges of the new species on the H. shastae page and eventually I will make other changes. For now, since I only have pictures of one species and since there are no apparent differences between the three species and since all the natural history information applies to all three species, I'll leave them on one page as H. shastae until the dust settles and everybody approves of the split.

Morgan Stickrod contributed some beautiful pictures of Southeast Farallon Island and a very cool Arboreal Salamander from the island with very large yellow spots.

Someone contributed a picture of what seems to be an anerythristic San Diego Alligator Lizard. It is pale and yellowish with black markings.

Akela Arthur contributed pictures and video of two Red Diamond Rattlesnakes mating.

Teejay O'Rear contributed pictures of Sierra Newt and Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs from Placer County and Nevada County which is nice, because frogs from that side of the state have been under-represented here.


Stephen Egnatchik sent in a picture of a San Diego Nightsnake with an unusual zig-zag pattern from LA County.

Stacy Schenkel contributed pictures of a Gophersnake she rescued when it was found trapped because it tried to crawl between the mesh of synthetic plastic, this time it was a tarp.

Jonathan Koehler let me use pictures of a Common Gartersnake from Napa County where two subspecies meet. It might be an intergrade with the Valley Gartersnake, but I think it looks more like the California Red-sided Gartersnake subspecies.

John T. Snow contributed a picture of a Cape Nightsnake from Cabo San Lucas.

Jeff Nordland contributed a photo of a Mohave Desert Tortoise in Anza-Borrego State Park where they have been introduced.

Sean Barry contributed pictures of California Red-legged Frogs from Baja California.

Casey Moss contributed pictures of a pale orange hypomelanistic Sierra Newt, with a normal one for comparison.

Gene Sederholm sent in a picture of a bright yellow bodied blue headed Shasta Alligator Lizard from Siskiyou.

The March 1, 2018 - February 28, 2019 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations are out, with sections on the regulations pertaining to the take of Amphibians and Reptiles. I can find no differences between this year's regulations pertaining to Amphibians and Reptiles and last year's regulations.


Jeff Nordland contributed pictures of some crazy hypo-melanistic and piebald Large-blotched Ensatinas from San Diego County.

Rudy Wallen contributed a picture of a California Red-legged Frog from San Francisco.

Brian Hinds contributed a picture of an unusually brown Southern Pacific Rattlesnake with a thin gold pattern from Santa Barbara County, and a San Joaquin Coachwhip from Stanislaus County that's a real beauty.

Mark gary sent in a nice shot of a very mature California Tiger Salamander egg that looks ready to hatch any minute, and some freshly-laid California Red-legged Frog eggs.

Evan Mehta contributed pictures of an albino (or maybe leucistic) California Slender Salamander. Along with an albino Arboreal Salamander, as far as I can remember, this is only the second picture of an albino salamander I have on the site. And a couple of Coastal Giant Salamander larvae from the north coast.

Brian Hinds has been helping me re-do my range map for Black-bellied Slender Salamanders in the L.A. Basin. It turns out that they are being found in lots of places not formerly shown on my map (or on most other range maps for the species), so I now show them through most of the basin except for a portion in the south and Orange County where so far we don't know of any records for them.

Paul Maier has contributed a lot of great pictures:
Arroyo Toad from San Diego County; Arboreal Salamander from San Diego County; San Diego Banded Gecko from Baja California Norte; bright red Red Racers from Imperial and coastal San Diego County; Southern Pacific Rattlesnake from San Diego County; a hatchling Southwestern Pond Turtle from Riverside County; Western Spadefoots from San Diego County; Granite Night Lizard from San Diego County; Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard; Southwestern Threadsnake; Two-striped Gartersnake from San Diego County, Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frogs from Fresno County, Northern Rubber Boas from Fresno County; Long-nosed Leopard Lizard from Inyo County; Blainville's Horned Lizard; Flat-tailed Horned Lizard; San Diego Nightsnake; Rosy Boa; California Mountain Kingsnake; Mount Lyell Salamanders; Monterey Ensatina; Large-blotched Ensatina and Hybrids; Sierra Nevada Ensatina, and lots and lots of great Yosemite Toad pictures, inluding lots of beautiful habitat shots - Adults and juvenile toads, Adults in amplexus, tadpoles, and metamorphs, and a video of a chorus of males.


Taxonomy Changes

I have been adding notes and making some name changes based on SSAR Herpetological Circular No. 43, 2017, the latest common and scientific names list. The main changes on their list from the taxonomy I have been using (which has already changed a bit from the 2012 7th edition of the SSAR Herpetological Circular) are shown below. I have not made all these changes yet, and I may not make them all. I will wait to see if they are accepted elsewhere first (especially the changes to Elgaria.)


Anaxyrus boreas -
The longstanding two subspecies are lumped together, no longer recognized.


Chionactis occipitalis
gets re-arranged into two species:
Chionactis occiptalis annulata -
Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake - Becomes Chionactis annulata annulata
Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis -
Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake - Becomes Chionactis occipitalis
Chionactis occipitalis talpina -
Nevada Shovel-nosed Snake - subspecies is sunk, merged into C. occipitalis

Lichanura orcutti - Northern Three-lined Boa - Common name changed back to Rosy Boa. (I'm glad to hear it.)
But to make things confusing:
Lichanura trivirgata - the common name has changed from Rosy Boa to Three-lined Boa.

Pelamis platurus
- Yellow-bellied Seasnake - Put in a new genus - Hydrophis platurus

Pituophis catenifer - Gopher Snake - Changed Gophersnake. I have made this change now that the list is finally trying to make all names consistent instead of using a combination of merged and separated names (but there are still a lot of exceptions, such as Glossy Snake, Sea Turtle, Leopard Frog, Chorus Frog, etc. etc.) It might have made sense to separate all the names instead of merge them, especially since that's what all of the "common" people use out in the real world, those people who are not taxonomists and for whom the "common" names are supposed to be made.

Ramphotyphlops braminus - Brahminy Blindsnake - Put in a new genus - Indotyphlops braminus


Anniella campi - Common name changed from Southern Sierra Legless Lizard to Big Springs Legless Lizard
Anniella pulchra - Common name changed from Northern California Legless Lizard to Northern Legless Lizard
Anniella stebbinsi - Common name changed from Southern California Legless Lizard to San Diegan Legless Lizard

Elgaria multicarinata scincicauda
- No longer recognized, becoming E. m. multicarinata
E. m. multicarinata - Common name changed to Forest Alligator Lizard (and distribution changed)
E. m. scincauda - Common name changed to Woodland Alligator Lizard (and distribution changed)

Urosaurus nigricaudus
- Baja California Brush Lizard - Changed back to Urosaurus microscutatus - Small-scaled Lizard. Make up your mind!


Chelydra serpentina - Common Snapping Turtle - Common name changed to Snapping Turtle, because the word "common" is considered misleading.


Grayson Sandy sent in pics of California Red-legged Frogs in amplexus in Contra Costa County, so it looks like the breeding season is underway.

Mark Gary found two new ponds in Contra Costa County that contained some recently-laid California Tiger Salamander eggs.

Chad Lane contributed some pictures of Southern Long-toed Salamanders from a county not yet represented here - Nevada County.

Last year Lynda Flynn asked me if she could make a quilt based on one of my pictures of Rana draytonii and I was excited to see a picture of her finished quilt, which looks a lot better than my frog picture.

Jay Keller contributed some pictures of an Arboreal Salamander and its habitat in San Diego County and some Black-bellied Slender Salamanders from the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County, the first pictures I have from those mountains.

Evan Mehta contributed pictures of a Red-bellied Newt and habitat in the recently-discovered Santa Clara County location.

Another Yellow-bellied Sea Snake was found in California, at Newport Beach on 1/8/18, and this is not even an El Ninyo year. This is the fifth confirmed record.

Adam Clause contributed a bunch of great pictures from Mono and Inyo Counties: Western Tiger Salamander from Mono County, Great Basin Spadefoots from Mono and Inyo Counties, Sierra Alligator Lizards from Inyo County, Leopard Lizard from Mono County, Long-nosed Snakes from Mono County, and a Striped Whipsnake from Mono County.

Margi Bauer contributed pictures of a Common Sharp-tailed Snake found in San Luis Obispo County.

Ed Ervin contributed a picture of the tracks of a California Toad as it moved through dirt in San Diego County.

Natalie Reader contributed John Kunna's picture of some irregular upper labial scales of a San Francisco Gartersnake found among her study animals at the SF Airport. The snake has a horizontally split 6th upper labial scale on both sides of the head, something I don't think I've ever seen before, and I don't know how rare it is.

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