ILLUSTRATED CHECKLISTS OF ANIMALS
provided are specific to the geographical scope of
this paper. Measurements for turtles include the shell
length, for lizards the standard snout-vent lengths;
and for snakes the total length. Some details of the
natural history are provided as identification aids.
arrangement of information is as follows: order (common
names within order), characters common to the order
(or family), common names of individual species (scientific
name, family name), size, description, and habitat.
Descriptions are mostly taken from California Amphibians
and Reptiles and Western Reptiles and Amphibians
by Robert C. Stebbins, as well as from personal notes.
to each written description is a graphic illustration
taken with permission from California Department of
Fish and Game's California's Wildlife.
pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata, Emydidae)
This turtle ranges from 31/2 to 71/2 inches.
Its carapace is olive green, dark brown, or
blackish. Its head and neck lack red markings.
It is omnivorous, feeding on carrion, invertebrates,
amphibians, especially tadpoles, and some water
plants. This aquatic species is found in or
near permanent sources of water such as ponds,
streams, and pools of intermittent streams.
It inhabits a wide variety of habitat types,
including riparian, grassland, and oak woodland.
It is common in some of the ponds on campus.
(Lizards and Snakes)
have scales. They also have clawed toes (except
for the legless lizards). Their eyelids are movable.
SPINY LIZARDS OR BLUE-BELLIES are round-bodied
or somewhat flattened. Their tails are longer
than their bodies. They have keeled, pointed,
overlapping scales on their backs.
fence lizard, blue-bellied lizard (Sceloporus
occidentalis, Iguanidae) This lizard grows
to between 21/4 and 31/2 inches long. It has
a black-, grey-, or brown-blotched back with
blue along the sides of the belly and, in males,
also on the throat. It has keeled scales over
all its back and tail. Its young hatch from
eggs. It is active during spring and summer
and is almost exclusively diurnal. Its food
includes insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes,
buds, and leaves. It is very common in most
habitats of Poly Canyon.
LIZARDS are often called "horny toads."
They are armed with sharp head spines and sharp
scales on their backs. They can be difficult to
find, but tend to be near loose soil where they
can bury themselves and ant colonies where they
can find food.
Coast horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum,
Iguanidae) The coast horned lizard ranges from
21/2 to 4 inches. It has large scales slong
the rear margin of its head. Its back and neck
vary in color among yellowish, brown, reddish,
or grey with blotches. Its belly is light colored.
It is active mostly from spring through fall.
Although it is primarily diurnal, it may be
nocturnal during mid-summer. It is found in
riparian, woodland, annual grassland, and scrubland
communities in a variety of habitats.
are slim-bodied, small-limbed lizards with shiny,
cycloid scales reinforced with bone. The scales
on the belly and back are similar in size, but
those on the top of the head are enlarged and
symmetrically arranged. Their tongues are forked.
skink (Eumeces skiltonianus, Scincidae)
The Western skink is between 2 and 31/2 inches
long. Its back has a broad brown stripe edged
with black. This is bordered on each side by
three stripes that go from the nose, over the
eye, and along the side of the body to the tail.
The first stripe is cream-colored, the second
is dark brown, and the third is white. Adults'
tails are salmon-colored; juveniles' are blue.
Young hatch from eggs. Food includes primarily
insects, spiders, and sowbugs. The Western skink
is active from spring through fall and is mostly
diurnal. It occurs in open habitats in the grassland,
chaparral, woodland, and rocky riparian communities
of Poly Canyon.
are slender, active, diurnal lizards. They have
forked tongues. The scales on their bellies are
large and squarish and occur in regular rows (eight
lengthwise rows). The small scales on their backs
are called dorsal granules. Their whiplike tails
are at least twice the length of their bodies
and are covered in keeled scales. Their diet consists
of insects (especially termites), spiders, scorpions,
centipedes, and other lizards.
whiptail, California whiptail (Cnemidophorus
tigris, Teiidae) The Western whiptail grows
to between 21/2 and 41/2 inches long. It has
a pointed snout. Generally it has four to five
light stripes that run the length of its back.
The scales on its back ar granular. Its belly
usually is cream-colored or yellowish with scattered
dark spots, especially on its chest and throat.
The scales on its belly are rectangular. It
has a long tail. The western whiptail is a fast
runner and may be seen running upright on its
hind legs. Adults are active from spring till
fall; juveniles are active through the fall.
Young hatch from eggs. Western whiptails are
mostly diurnal. They are found in woodland,
scrubland, and annual grassland communities
in Poly Canyon.
LIZARDS are long and slender with short legs,
and a long tail. A distinctive fold containing
granular scales runs along both sides of the body.
This fold separates the back and belly which both
have large squarish scales that are reinforced
alligator lizard, California alligator lizard
(Elgaria (Gerrhonotus) multicarinatus,
Anguidae) This lizard ranges in size from 3
to 7 inches. Its eyes are pale yellow. It sometimes
has dark stripes between the scale rows on its
belly. Usually it has conspicuous dark bands
on its back and tail. Its back has keeled rectangular
scales and is banded in brown, grey, reddish,
or yellowish. It has thick, muscular tail. The
Southern alligator lizard preys on insects,
spiders, including the black widow, snails,
eggs, meadow mice, and young birds. Young hatch
from eggs. The southern alligator lizard can
be active year-round if winters are mild. It
is mainly diurnal. It is found in grassland,
chaparral, oak woodland, and pastoral communities
near streams or in the moist canyon bottoms
during dry periods.
LIZARDS are snakelike and about the size of
a pencil. Their movable eyelids distinguish them
from snakes. They are covered with small, smooth,
cycloid scales. They have small eyes. Their snouts
are shaped like shovels. They have no ear openings.
They burrow. They bear live young.
legless lizard (Anniella pulchra,
Annielidae) This lizard can be from 41/2 to
7 inches long. It usually has a silver or beige
back with a black stripe running down the middle.
Its belly is yellowish. It forages in leaf litter
for its prey: insects and spiders. It is probably
active year-round, except perhaps in the coldest
part of winter. It is diurnal and nocturnal.
It occurs in sandy, loose soils and/or in soils
rich in leaf litter, in grassland, scrubland,
or woodland communities. It may be common under
or near livestock carcasses, but it is not commonly
SNAKES form the largest snake family and exhibit
considerable variety in habit and appearance.
Californian species are harmless to humans.
ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus,
Colubridae) This snake ranges from 8 to 30 inches
long. It has a greenish back. It has a black
head and a distinctive yellow, orange or cream-colored
neck band. Its belly is orangish. It has smooth
scales (unkeeled). This ringneck snake is active
from spring through fall. It preys heavily on
slender salamanders (Batrachoseps spp.), as
well as treefrogs, lizards, skinks, snakes,
worms, and insects. It is diurnal, crepuscular,
and nocturnal during warm periods. It inhabits
moist, open, rocky places in riparian, woodland,
grassland, chaparral, and pastoral communities.
AND WHIPSNAKES are slender, smooth-scaled,
fast diurnal snakes with large eyes. They hunt
with theri heads held above the ground like a
periscope. They lay eggs. They are primarily terrestrial,
but may climb trees or bushes. They prey on lizards,
snakes, small mammals, frogs, birds and their
eggs, insects, and sometimes carrion.
yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor,
Colubridae) Unlike most racers, this snake is
a constrictor. This species measures from 20
to 73 inches long, but is usually 36 inches
or less. It has a greenish back. It has a pale
yellow or whitish belly. It is most active during
spring and summer and into the early part of
fall. It is found in open habitats of most plant
whipsnake, striped racer (Masticophis
lateralis, Colubridae) This snake reaches
30 to 60 inches in length. It has a plain brown
or black back with a distinctive yellowish-whitish
stripe on each side. Its belly is a pale yellow-orange
or off-white. It is active from spring through
mid-fall. It inhabits riparian, woodland, mixed
chaparral, grassland, and rock outcrop communities.
snake (Pituophis melanoleucus, Colubridae)
The gopher snake ranges in length from 36 to
100 inches. The coloration of its back may resemble
that of a Western rattlesnake; it is yellowish
or cream-colored with dark blotches. Its belly
is pale yellow-white and may be spotted with
black. It can be told from a rattlesnake by
its small head and the absence of a rattle.
It preys on rodents. It is active from spring
through fall and is diurnal. It occurs mainly
in sparsely vegetated, open, grassy habitats
in scrubland, woodland, grassland, and pastoral
have smooth, glossy scales. They lay eggs. They
are constrictors and prey on snakes, including
rattlesnakes, lizards, reptile and bird eggs,
rodents, birds, and frogs.
kingsnake, California kingsnake (Lampropeltis
getulus, Colubridae) The common kingsnake
ranges in size from 30 to 82 inches. It is banded
in black or dark brown and white or pale yellow.
It is active from spring through fall. Although
it is primarily diurnal, it may be crepuscular
during hot summer temperatures. It is found
mainly in shrubby or rock outcrop habitats in
SNAKES are slender. They have keeled scales
and striped patterns. They are mainly diurnal.
They bear live young. They prey on fish, frogs
and their tadpoles, salamanders, earthworms, insects,
slugs, small rodents, nestling birds and bird
eggs, all of which they swallow whole.
garter snake, California red-sided garter snake
(Thamnophis (Nerodia) sirtalis, Colubridae)
This snake is 18 to 52 inches long. It has highly
variable coloration, but has yellow or white
stripes on its back and sides. It is active
from spring through fall. It is found around
permanent or semi-permanent bodies of water
in riparian, grassland, woodland, scrubland,
ruderal, and pastoral communities.
terrestrial garter snake, coast garter snake
(Thamnophis (Nerodia) elegans terrestris,
Colubridae) This garter snake reaches 18 to
43 inches in length. It usually has three distinctive
stripes down its back (through the middle and
sides), with the area between the stripes being
checkered with dark spots or dark and flecked
with white. The belly can be grey, brown, or
bluish and flecked or blotched with reddish-orange.
It is active year-round. It is found near permanent
or semi-permanent bodies of water in riparian,
grassland, woodland, and scrubland communities.
are large, heavy-bodied, poisonous snakes. The
rattle, at the tip of the tail, is made of a series
of loose-fitting horny segments. Up to six segments
can be added to the rattle each year, depending
on the availability of food. Rattlesnakes are
large, triangular-shaped heads. Their scales are
keeled. They have long, hollow fangs that fold
back into their mouth when not in use. Rattlesnakes
hunt mostly at dusk and night, but are also active
by day. Their young are born live.
rattlesnake, Southern Pacific rattlesnake
(Crotalus viridis helleri, Viperidae)
This rattler is from 15 to 65 inches long. It
is dark-blotched and usually has a light stripe
that runs from behind its eye to the corner
of its mouth. It can be told from a gopher snake
by its large triangular head and its rattle.
It is found in all habitats, especially in rock
outcrops and rocky riparian, chaparral, and