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Data 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.

The 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.

Next to each written description is a graphic illustration taken with permission from California Department of Fish and Game's California's Wildlife.


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Southwestern 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.


SQUAMATA (Lizards and Snakes)
LIZARDS 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.

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Western 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.


HORNED 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.

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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.


SKINKS 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.

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Western 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.


WHIPTAILS 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.

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Western 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.


ALLIGATOR 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 with bone.

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Southern 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.


LEGLESS 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.

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California 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 seen.


COLUBRID SNAKES form the largest snake family and exhibit considerable variety in habit and appearance. Californian species are harmless to humans.

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Monterey 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.


RACERS 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.

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Western 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 communities.


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California 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.


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Gopher 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 communities.


KINGSNAKES 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.

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Common 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 riparian communities.


GARTER 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.

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Common 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.


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Western 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.


RATTLESNAKES 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.

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Western 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 scrub communities.