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Bay Area Herpetology

Reptiles & Amphibians of the


San Francisco Bay Area

Amphibians
Salamanders (12)
Anurans (5)
Frogs (3) + 2 non-natives
Toads (2)
17 Total Natives
* rare or difficult to find.
+ listed, protected, or endangered

Reptiles

Crocodilians (0)
Lizards (10)
Snakes (20) + 1 non-native
Turtles (1) + multiple introductions
31 Total Natives
*rare or difficult to find
+ listed, protected, or endangered

Californiaherps.com
http://mvz.berkeley.edu
http://research.calacademy.org/herp
Range maps by Gary Naris

Mental Gland

Salamanders

Neoteny
Sexual maturity with juvenile morphology.

Stephen J. Gould: Neotenic development of Mickey Mouse

Dicamptodontidae
4 members of this family all in Northern
California and Pacific Northwest.
Some neoteny in this family.
Pleistocene fossil record.
Wide head, short, bushy gills, keratinized toes
large and fat, indistinct costal grooves,
vertically thick tail.
Habitat: Forest streams.
Name means double curved tooth

California Giant Salamander


Dicamptodon ensatus*

California Giant Salamander


Dicamptodon ensatus*

Gazos Creek; Mt. Tam; El Corte De Madera; Butano


Habitat: Wet Forest, creeks and streams.
Where to look: under logs; in waterways.
Larvae take up to 2 years to transform.
Food: invertebrates, other salamanders.
Color variation: Pale to dark forms.
Additional Comments: Subject to fungus
infections.
Rattle-like bark.
Maternal care of eggs.

Ambystomatidae
Prominent costal grooves, toes wide at
base and tapering.
Tubercles on hind feet.
Adults and larva flat tail.
Larvae with prominent gills.
Habitat: Aquatic, grassland.
Diet: Invertebrates and vertebrates.
Name means cup-mouth

California Tiger Salamander+


Ambystoma californiense

California Tiger Salamander+


Ambystoma californiense

Corral Hollow; Vasco caves; Black Diamond Mines; Morgan Territory.

Habitat: Grasslands with ponds & vernal


pools .
Where to look: under logs; in water ways,
road crossing during rainy nights.
Larvae transform rapidly in vernal pools.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: spotting variable.
Additional Comments: Federally protected;
illegal to handle.

Northwestern Salamander*
Ambystoma gracile

Northwestern Salamander

Ambystoma gracile
Salt Point

Habitat: Forested pools and creeks.


Where to look: under logs; in water ways,
road crossing during rainy nights.
Larvae with fin-like tail.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: fairly uniform.
Additional Comments: Secretes toxin form
skin glands when molested and hunkers
head, exaggerating parotoid glands.
Southern range extension at Salt Point.

Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander+


Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum

Photo by James Maughn

Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander+


Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum

Santa Cruz area

Habitat: Wooded area with ponds & vernal


pools .
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights in late fall.
Larvae transform rapidly in vernal pools.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: markings variable.
Additional Comments: Federally protected;
illegal to handle.

Salamandridae
NOT A SALAMANADER
Newts have unique life cycle: Aquatic larvae to
terrestrial adult then alternating between aquatic adult
for breeding and terrestrial adult.
Description:costalgroovesessentiallyabsent.
Grainyskin:terrestrial;smooth:larvaandbreeding
aquaticadult.
Brightbellytowarnoftetrodotoxin.
Habitat:Aquatic,Forest
Diet:Invertebratesandvertebrates
Namemeanssalamander.

Rough-Skinned Newt
Taricha granulosa

Rough-Skinned Newt
Taricha granulosa

Gazos Creek; Briones; Butano

Habitat: Wooded area with ponds, vernal


pools, streams
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights in late fall.
Larvae: faint spots, no stripes.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: dark and pale forms.
Additional Comments: Tetrodotoxin in skin.
Distinguished from T. torosa by lack of
orange triangle near eye.

California Newt
Taricha torosa

California (Coast Range) Newt*


Taricha torosa

Tilden Park; Redwood Regional Park; Briones; Gazos Creek; Corral Hollow

Habitat: Wooded area with ponds, vernal


pools and streams.
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights in late fall.
Larvae are striped.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: pale and dark forms.
Additional Comments: Yellow to orange
triangle pattern near eye distinguishes from
T. granulosa

RangeinCalifornia: Red
Orange: Sierra Newt

Red-bellied Newt*
Taricha rivularis

Red-bellied Newt
Taricha rivularis

Lake Sonoma; Skaggs Road

Habitat: Wooded area near rivers; prefer


fast waterways.
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights in late fall and
early spring. February migration.
Larvae: without markings
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: limited
Additional Comments: May hybridize with T.
granulosa.

Taricha rivularis x T. granulosa

Plethodontidae
Large family of lungless salamanders;
breath through skin.
Live in most habitats.
No larval forms; complete development in
eggs. Some brood eggs.
Terrestrial.
Feed mostly on invertebrates.
Name means many teeth.

Yellow-eyed Ensatina
Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica

Ensatina (Integrade)
Ensatina e. xanthoptica
x oreganus

Ensatina Integrade
Ensatina e. xanthoptica x platensis

Yellow-eyed Ensatina
Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica

Redwood Regional Park; Mt. Diablo; Morgan Territory; Borges


Ranch: Leona Canyon, Briones; Corte de Madera, Butano Park
Hybrids: Gazos Creek and Lake Sonoma

Yellow-eyed Ensatina
Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica
Habitat: Wet Wooded areas, never suburban.
Where to look: under logs and rocks road crossing during
rainy nights.
No Larval form.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: markings variable from pale to dark.
Additional Comments: Pronounced yellow in upper iris.
Hybrid forms lack yellow or have reduced yellow.
Mimics Taricha coloration for protection. May stand tall on
all fours to exaggerate size.
Broods eggs.
Genetics distinction between northern and southern
populations of E.e.xanthopica.

Black Salamander*
Aneides niger*

Black Salamander*
Aneides niger
Gazos Creek
Habitat: Often found in transition zones.
between wet woodlands and grassy
meadows.
Where to look: under logs and rocks.
No Larvae.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: Typically solid black
including ventral region, but may show
some green blotching in young.
Additional Comments: Recently
reclassified; distinct from northern species.
Once thought locally extinct.
Lay suspended eggs which they brood.

Black Salamander (spotted phase)


Aneides flavipuncatus

Black Salamander (spotted phase)


Aneides flavipuncatus
Lake Sonoma

Habitat: Often found in transition zones.


between wet woodlands and grassy
meadows.
Where to look: under logs and rocks.
No Larvae.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: Mottled with yellow or
green to solid black.
Additional Comments: Recently
distinguished from southern form, A. niger.
Lay suspended eggs which they brood.

Arboreal Salamander
Aneides lugubris

Arboreal Salamander
Aneides lugubris
Merritt Campus, Mt. Diablo, Gazos Creek, Borges
Ranch, Suburban yards
Habitat: Wooded areas, suburban yards.
Where to look: under logs and rocks, and
trees.
No Larvae.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: spotting variable from light
to heavy.
Additional Comments: Has prehensile tail.
Barks.
Broods eggs.

California Slender Salamander*


Batrachoseps attenuatus

California Slender Salamander


Batrachoseps attenuatus
Merritt Campus, Mt. Diablo, Gazos Creek, Borges
Ranch, Suburban yards, Redwood Regional Park
Habitat: Moist wooded areas from oak to
redwoods.
Where to look: under logs and rocks; rarely
in open.
No Larvae.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: markings from charcoal to
golden to reddish.
Additional Comments: Plays dead.
Can dig up to 50 feet down.
Lay eggs in winter often in communal
nests.
Over 21 recognized species and
subspecies.

Anurans

Pelobatidae

Only found in New World.


Single spade on each hind foot.
Large eyes with cat-like pupils.
Teeth in upper jaw.
Indistinct or absent parotoid glands.
Males with dusky throat and purple nuptial pads on
innermost front toes.
Rapid transformations; some species with cannibalistic
tadpoles.
May be dormant for ~20 years.
Name means clay or brown

Western Spadefoot Toad+


Spea hammondii

Western Spadefoot Toad

Spea hammondii
Corral Hollow

Habitat: Vernal pools. Loose soils.


Where to look: crossing during rainy nights
in late fall and spring.
Tadpoles transform in 2 weeks in vernal
pools.
Food: invertebrates; tadpoles filter feed.
Color variation: variable pale to dark.
Additional Comments: protected species of
concern.

Bufonidae

400 + species.
Visible paratoid glands.
Round pupils.
Short-legged.
Warty.
Foot tubercles.

California Toad
Bufo (Anaxyrus) boreas halophilus

California Toad
Bufo (Anaxyrus) boreas halophilus
Mt. Diablo, Borges Ranch, Briones, Limeridge Ponds,
Thrives in disturbed habitat
Habitat: Disturbed areas with ponds &
vernal pools.
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights.
Larvae transform rapidly.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: pale to dark.
Additional Comments: Males have release
calls.

Hylidae
800 + species.
Toe pads set off by extra segment.
Typically large headed with rounded
snouts.
Name means wood dweller.

Pacific Treefrog
Pseudacris regilla (sierra)

Pacific Treefrog
Pseudacris regilla (sierra)
Mt. Diablo, Leona Canyon,
Briones, Redwood Regional Park,
Sunol, Corral Hollow

Habitat: Wooded area with ponds and


streams, rivers, suburbs.
Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights. Loud calls.
Larvae transform rapidly in vernal pools.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: consistent brown or green
that can lighten or darken; spots may be
present. Color change takes minutes.
Additional Comments: Resistant to Chytrid.

Ranidae
True frogs.
Smooth skin. Glandular dorsolateral folds from
posterior eye to lower back.
Forelimbs and thumb bases of males enlarge
during breeding season; webbing also increases
and dark nuptial pads develop on the base of
thumbs.
Vocal sacs, single, paired or inconspicuous.
Name means frog.

California Red-legged Frog+


Rana (Lithobates) draytonii

California Red-legged Frog+


Rana (Lithobates) draytonii
Mt. Diablo, Borges Ranch,
King Ranch, Butano Park,
Sunol

Habitat: Ponds & vernal pools .


Where to look: under logs; in water, road
crossing during rainy nights.
Larvae transform within one year.
Food: invertebrates, small frogs.
Color variation: pale and dark forms. Pale
at night.
Additional Comments: Federally protected;
illegal to handle.

Foothill Yellow-legged Frog+


Rana (Lithobates) boylii

Foothill Yellow-legged Frog+


Rana boylii
Sunol, Henry Coe Park, Del Puerto Canyon
Habitat: Prefers creeks and rivers.
Where to look: under logs; in water,
road crossing during rainy nights in late
fall.
Larvae transform within one year
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: pale and dark forms;
red glandular spots appear more
prominently in cooler weather.
Additional Comments: Federally
protected; illegal to handle.

Bullfrog
Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana

Bullfrog
Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana
Heather Farms, drought may
have reduced or eliminated
many populations
Habitat: Requires year round water
Larvae transform slowly: 2 years.
Food: invertebrates.
Color variation: pale and dark, even blue
forms.
Additional Comments: Introduced for food.
Opportunistic eater of amphibians and
aquatic reptiles as well as fish and
invertebrates.

Pipidae

Clawed Frogs.
Introduced to Bay Area.
Tongueless frogs.
South American and African species.
Ears designed for hearing underwater.
No vocal cords; vocalize with laryngeal rods.
Flattened bodies and feet totally webbed.
Entirely aquatic.
Fossil record dates back to early Cretaceous.
Name means chirp

African Clawed Frog


Xenopus laevis

African Clawed Frog


Xenopus laevis
Habitat: Prefers still water.
Where to look: Essentially aquatic.
Larvae transform within one year
Food: invertebrates, fish, tadpoles.
Color variation: pale and dark forms
usually with pronounced blotching.
Comments: Research animal,
introduced by pet trade. Can survive
drought by burrowing in mud; 8+
months without food.

Key features of Herps

Range
Habitat
Season
Reproductive strategies
Variations
Distinguishing features
Similar species
Status