Reptile and Amphibian Guide

This guide initially displays common reptiles and amphibians of all shapes. Use the selectors below to view particular shapes, include rare species, or search by name.

Reptiles are a group of vertebrate animals that are cold-blooded, i.e., they regulate their inner body temperature by responding to the temperature of their environment, basking in the sun to warm themselves up or lying in the shade to cool off. Animals in the class Reptilia include snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles and tortoises. All of these creatures are covered in scales and breathe air through their lungs throughout their lifetime. In addition, they all produce eggs. Most reptiles lay eggs from which young hatch directly after an incubation period. However, some snakes, including rattlesnakes, carry their eggs internally and then give birth to live young.

Like reptiles, amphibians (frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and worm-like caecilians) are cold-blooded vertebrates. However, unlike reptiles, animals in the class Amphibia do not have scales but rather have skin that is permeable so that molecules and gases can pass through it. In addition, they lay their eggs in water where the young are born as larvae using gills to breath. The larvae grow and change into the adult form. This process includes developing lungs thus allowing the adults to live on land. Amphibians are considered to be the link between fish and reptiles as they were the first animals to leave the water and come onto land.

The question often arises of how to tell the difference between a frog and a toad. Although they are closely related amphibians, there are some features that can be used to distinguish them. Frogs have long hind legs for jumping, moist and usually smooth skin and bulging eyes. In addition, they typically stay in water. Toads have short legs for walking and hopping, dry and bumpy skin and do not have bulging eyes but do have poison glands behind their eyes. They mostly stay on land.

This guide describes the modest number of amphibians and reptiles including two venomous snakes that can be found in Los Alamos and the surrounding areas. An excellent reference for more information is Amphibians and Reptiles of Los Alamos County by Teralene S. Foxx, Timothy K. Haarmann, and David C Keller.

Reptile and Amphibian References

Amphibiaweb
Amphibians and Reptiles of Los Alamos County [PDF]
Bartlett, R.D., Bartlett, P.P., 2013 New Mexico’s Reptiles and Amphibians: A Field Guide. University of NM Press
Biota Information System of New Mexico
Degenhardt, W.G., Painter, C.W., Price, A.H., 2005 Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of NM Press
eNature
Encyclopedia of Life
New Mexico Herpetological Society
The Reptile Database

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

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Jennifer Macke
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Showing 34 of 39 reptiles and amphibians.
male

Photo: male by alikat

female

Photo: female by Sally King

Eastern Collared Lizard

(Crotaphytus collaris)

Family: Crotaphytidae (Leopard Lizards)
Size: 8 - 14 in (20 - 36 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: arid areas with large rocks and hilly regions with limestone ledges
Typical location: Pajarito Plateau, White Rock Canyon

Large lizard with a dark stripe near the throat is most commonly found from late April to May. They like boulder-strewn or talus slopes where they bask and prey on insects and other lizards. They are mainly insectivorous. When startled they will run with forelegs lifted off the ground and the tail raised.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Jennifer Macke

adult

Photo: adult by Beth Cortright

Hernandez's Short-horned Lizard, Greater Short-horned Lizard, Mountain Short-horned Lizard

(Phrynosoma hernandesi hernandesi)

Family: Phrynosomatidae (North American Spiny Lizards)
Size: 2.5 - 5.9 in (6 - 15 cm)

Status: native; locally common
Habitat: open rocky or sandy plains; forested areas up to 9,000 ft (2,700 m)
Typical location: Deer Trap Mesa, White Rock, Kwage Mesa

This squat little lizard has an oval shaped body and dagger-like head spines. As this lizard scurries away in a waddling movement, it is hard to resist picking it up. Keeping this lizard in captivity generally results in its death because it eats hundreds of ants daily. These lizards are less common than they were in the past.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Jennifer Macke

adult

Photo: adult by Jennifer Macke

Plateau Fence Lizard, Blue Belly Lizard

(Sceloporus tristichus)

Family: Phrynosomatidae (North American Spiny Lizards)
Size: 3.5 - 7.5 in (9 - 19 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: sunny locations with open woodlands or prairies
Typical location: Pajarito Plateau, White Rock Canyon

By far the most common lizard in the area. The main body color is gray, brown, or reddish with light stripes along either side of the back. Adults may appear to be solid gray-brown with little patterning. The underside of the males has bright blue belly patches. They can be found in a wide variety of environments. They eat insects. These quick moving lizards will lose their tail when grasped by a predator, but it will eventually grow back.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Common Tree Lizard

Photo: Jennifer Macke

male

Photo: male by Robbie Deans

Common Tree Lizard, Ornate Tree Lizard

(Urosaurus ornatus)

Family: Phrynosomatidae (North American Spiny Lizards)
Size: 4.5 - 6.3 in (11 - 16 cm)

Status: native; locally common
Habitat: rocks, fence posts, and buildings in arid regions
Typical location: Pajarito Plateau, White Rock Canyon

At first glance, the tree lizard may look similar to the more-ubiquitous Fence Lizard. Indeed, they are similar in overall size and shape. However, the tree lizard differs in color pattern and has a more flattened body shape. The coloration of this lizard varies from population to population, probably influenced by the color of the soil. Like the Fence Lizard, the male may have blue belly patches. Despite the name, the Tree Lizard is almost always seen on rocks, not trees.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Teralene Foxx

adult

Photo: adult by Jerry Oldenettel

Many-lined Skink

(Plestiodon multivirgatus, Eumeces multivirgatus)

Family: Scincidae (Skinks)
Size: 5 - 7.6 in (13 - 19 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: areas with rocks and small brush in open grassy plains, sandy hills and desert, mountainous wooded areas; up to 8,200 ft (2,500 m)

Juveniles are black with stripes and a blue tail. Adults are light brown and may or may not have stripes.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Teralene Foxx

adult

Photo: adult by Jennifer Macke

Great Plains Skink, Sonoran Skink

(Plestiodon obsoletus, Eumeces obsoletus)

Family: Scincidae (Skinks)
Size: 6.5 - 13.8 in (17 - 35 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: grassy areas near permanent or semipermanent water
Typical location: Frijoles Canyon, White Rock

Secretive. A lizard that spends most of its time underground. Usually found near permanent water.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by John Karges

adult

Photo: adult by Jennifer Macke

Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail

(Aspidoscelis exsanguis, Cnemidophorus exsanguis)

Family: Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus)
Size: 9.5 - 12.4 in (24 - 31 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: desert, grassy areas and mountain woodlands
Typical location: White Rock, White Rock Canyon

This lizard is one of the less-common, but is found throughout the county. Three of our local whiptail species, including this one, are all-female (parthenogenetic) so they do not need fertilization to reproduce and lay eggs. Juveniles appear striped, with the characteristic spots becoming more obvious with age.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Mitch Chapman

adult

Photo: adult by J.N. Stuart

Little Striped Whiptail, Woodland Striped Whiptail

(Aspidoscelis inornatus, Cnemidophorus inornatus)

Family: Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus)
Size: 6.5 - 9.4 in (17 - 24 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: semiarid grasslands where vegetation is scattered

Has 6 to 8 light stripes separated by dark brown to black bands without spots. The center light stripe is usually lighter and less distinct than the other stripes; this feature distinguishes it from the Plateau Striped Whiptail. Tail is bright blue, particularly in males. Throat and belly intensely blue in males and paler in females. When frightened seeks cover under brush or in burrows.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
New Mexico Whiptail

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

New Mexico Whiptail

(Aspidoscelis neomexicanus, Cnemidophorus neomexicanus)

Family: Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus)
Size: 6.5 - 9.1 in (17 - 23 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: sandy arroyos and washes and other areas that periodically flood; disturbed areas with sparse vegetation

Has 7 light-colored stripes down the back separated by light-spotted dark bands. Stripes are distinctly wavy or zigzagged. Tail is gray-green towards tip. Throat and belly pale blue to white. This species arose by hybridization of the Little Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis inornata) and the Western Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris). Three of our local whiptail species, including this one, are all-female (parthenogenetic) so they do not need fertilization to reproduce and lay eggs. The species is the official state reptile of New Mexico.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Vicente Mata-Silva

adult

Photo: adult by Chick Keller

Common Checkered Whiptail, Diploid Checkered Whiptail

(Aspidoscelis tesselatus, Cnemidophorus tesselatus)

Family: Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus)
Size: 11 - 15.5 in (28 - 39 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: rocky areas on sand or gravel with grass or sparse brush
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

The pattern and base coloration of this lizard varies widely, with brown or black blotching, checkering or striping on a pale yellow or white base color.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Gary Nafis, California Herps

adult

Photo: adult by Selvi Viswanathan

Plateau Striped Whiptail

(Aspidoscelis velox, Cnemidophorus velox)

Family: Teiidae (Whiptails and Tegus)
Size: 8 - 10.8 in (20 - 27 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: pine forests at 5,000-6,000 ft (1,600-1,800 m)
Typical location: Los Alamos Plateau, White Rock, White Rock Canyon

There are several similar-looking whiptails in the area, and the most common of them is the Plateau Striped Whiptail. The lizard has six distinct light-colored stripes running from head to tail. The body is black or dark brown, and the end of the tail is blue or greenish-blue (the whole tail of a juvenile is bright blue). Three of our local whiptail species, including this one, are all-female (parthenogenetic) so they do not need fertilization to reproduce and lay eggs. They seek cover under shrubs and actively pursue insects.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Desert Striped Whipsnake

Photo: Gary Nafis, California Herps

Desert Striped Whipsnake

(Coluber taeniatus taeniatus, Masticophis taeniatus taeniatus)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 40 - 72 in (102 - 183 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: variety of habitats from grassy areas to mountainous terrain with open woodlands; up to 9,400 ft (2,850 m)
Typical location: White Rock, White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. Often seeks shelter in rocky outcrops, rodent burrows and in shrubs and trees.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Ring-necked Snake

Photo: Akkana Peck

Ring-necked Snake

(Diadophis punctatus)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 10 - 30 in (25 - 76 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: moist areas in a variety of habitats including forests, hillsides, upland desert
Typical location: Quemazon Neighborhood

Nonvenomous. Secretive, usually staying underground. While most guides report that it occurs at elevations below 2200 m (7200 ft), it has been seen in Los Alamos townsite at somewhat higher elevations.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Western Hognose Snake

Photo: Jennifer Macke

Western Hognose Snake

(Heterodon nasicus)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 16 - 35 in (41 - 89 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: gravelly-soil prairie, chaparral; up to 8,000 ft (2,450 m)
Typical location: White Rock, White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. Secretive. Small snake with yellow or light tan background with darker saddles down its back. Its nose is turned up, giving it a weird facial expression. Will hiss readily when approached, but can also play dead when threatened. Found in lower-elevation areas surrounding Los Alamos.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Night Snake

Photo: Dawson

Night Snake

Photo: Beth Cortright

Night Snake

(Hypsiglena torquata)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 12 - 26 in (30 - 66 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: semiarid and arid sandy or rocky areas; up to 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. Nocturnal. May be mistaken for a young rattler but the night snake has a tail that tapers to a point and lacks a rattle.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Desert Kingsnake

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Desert Kingsnake

(Lampropeltis getula splendida)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 36 - 45 in (91 - 114 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: rural and mesa areas near rivers and streams
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. Nocturnal. Mostly black with yellow or whitish speckles. The head is usually very dark. For people afraid of rattlers, this snake is actually your best friend... they EAT rattlesnakes, and other snakes too! Found in lower-elevation areas surrounding Los Alamos.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Western Coachwhip

Photo: SantaFeLady

Western Coachwhip

Photo: J.N. Stuart

Western Coachwhip, Red Racer

(Masticophis flagellum testaceus, Coluber flagellum)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 36 - 102 in (91 - 259 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: dry open areas, rocky hillsides, chaparral; up to 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
Typical location: White Rock, White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. This snake comes in many colors, though the common local variety is pink, red, brick or coral in coloration. Large eyes, almost appears to have an "angry" expression on its face. While the red variety can be striped, banded, or even mottled in coloration, two less-frequently seen local variations are blackish or tan. These two color patterns tend to be more uniform and have less patterning than the red. Despite myths, this snake is harmless, but they do tend to bite when grabbed.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Smooth Green Snake

Photo: Yvonne Delamater

Smooth Green Snake

Photo: Barbara Calef

Smooth Green Snake

(Opheodrys vernalis, Liochlorophis vernalis)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 14 - 25 in (36 - 64 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: grassy marshes and fields along forest edge, near water; up to 9,500 ft (2,900 m)

Nonvenomous. A blue-colored variant (probably axanthic, lacking yellow pigment) has been seen locally.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Great Plains Rat Snake

Photo: Jennifer Macke

Great Plains Rat Snake, Corn Snake, Red Corn Snake

(Pantherophis emoryi, Pantherophis guttata, Elaphe guttata)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 36 - 60 in (91 - 152 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: open grassy areas and lightly forested areas
Typical location: White Rock

Nonvenomous. Nocturnal. As the name implies, this snake for good for rodent control.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Bullsnake

Photo: Jennifer Macke

Bullsnake, Western Gopher Snake

(Pituophis catenifer)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 48 - 96 in (122 - 244 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: prairie and open wooded areas.

Nonvenomous. Often mistaken for rattlesnakes, will even shake its tail when threatened, although it does not have rattles. Color varies widely, but usually yellowish or light tan background with brown or reddish saddles down the back. Long, thin shaped head. Excellent rodent feeder, very beneficial snake.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Mountain Patch-nosed Snake

Photo: Mouser Williams

Mountain Patch-nosed Snake

(Salvadora grahamiae)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 22 - 47 in (56 - 119 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: open woodland and forested mountain slopes above 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
Typical location: Frijoles Canyon, White Rock, White Rock Canyon

Nonvenomous. Secretive. When approached this snake can bolt to cover with amazing speed.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Blackneck Garter Snake

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Blackneck Garter Snake

(Thamnophis cyrtopsis)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 16 - 43 in (41 - 109 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: desert flats with mesquite, pine-fir forests, near water sources; up to 8,750 ft (2,700 m)

Nonvenomous. There are two large black blotches at the neck. The underside is pale gray or cream.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

Photo: Jennifer Macke

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

(Thamnophis elegans)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 18 - 42 in (46 - 107 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: open grassy areas near water; up to 10,500 ft (3,200 m)

Nonvenomous. One of our most common snakes. Usually gray-brown with subtle checkered pattern or stripes down its back. Often seen near water. Many people think that they may be "water moccasins", but are not.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
New Mexico Garter Snake

Photo: Jesse Taylor

New Mexico Garter Snake

(Thamnophis sirtalis dorsalis)

Family: Colubridae (Advanced Snakes)
Size: 16 - 43 in (41 - 109 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: grassy areas along water
Typical location: Rio Grande at lower elevations

Nonvenomous. Subspecies of the common Garter Snake.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Photo: J.N. Stuart

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

(Crotalus atrox)

Family: Viperidae (Rattlesnakes and Other Vipers)
Size: 34 - 85 in (86 - 216 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: rocky areas, arid and semiarid area; generally below 7000 ft (2,100 m)
Typical location: White Rock, White Rock Canyon

Venomous. Coloration can vary, though usually a gray, light brown or tan background, with darker and highlighted "diamonds" down the back. Obvious triangle-shaped head, readily rattles when approached. Typically one of the larger and heavier snakes found in the area.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    Featured    
Prairie Rattlesnake

Photo: J.N. Stuart

Prairie Rattlesnake, Western Rattlesnake

(Crotalus viridis)

Family: Viperidae (Rattlesnakes and Other Vipers)
Size: 16 - 64 in (41 - 163 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: rocky areas, slopes and canyons; up to 11,000 ft (3,350 m)

Venomous. The most common rattlesnake locally. Usually greenish background with brown saddles down the back, but may vary to light brown with darker brown saddles, or even have a reddish or whitish coloration. Does NOT rattle readily; it is possible to approach very closely without being aware of its presence. Has a triangular head, though it is smaller and less pronounced than the Diamondback.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Western Box Turtle

Photo: Jane Nordholt

Western Box Turtle

(Terrapene ornata)

Family: Emydidae (Pond and Marsh Turtles)
Size: 2 - 6 in (5 - 15 cm)

Status: not known if native; uncommon
Habitat: variety of locations: arid and semiarid regions, grassy plains and pastures
Typical location: North Mesa

Is it possible that there are native box turtles in Los Alamos County? The species has not been officially documented here, but there have been many accounts of box turtles on North Mesa. If they are native (not former captives), we may have the highest-altitude population for this species! If you find one in Los Alamos, please contact PEEC.

Info    Photos   Distribution    
young adult

Photo: young adult by Rozelle Wright

old adult male

Photo: old adult male by J.N. Stuart

Red-eared Slider, Red-eared Terrapin

(Trachemys scripta elegans)

Family: Emydidae (Pond and Marsh Turtles)
Size: 4.9 - 11.3 in (12 - 29 cm)

Status: introduced; common
Habitat: areas with still water, such as ponds, creeks, streams, or slow-moving rivers
Typical location: Rio Grande, Ashley Pond

Native of the southern US and the most popular pet turtle. It has become established as an invasive species in many areas due to pet release in the wild. It is almost entirely aquatic and is named for the red striped around its ears. Males tend to lose their coloration with age. Males have much longer front claws than females and tend to be smaller overall.

Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Bernard Foy

adult

Photo: adult by Jennifer Macke

Woodhouse's Toad

(Anaxyrus woodhousii, Bufo woodhousii)

Family: Bufonidae (Toads)
Size: 2.5 - 5 in (6 - 13 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: sandy areas near marshes, irrigation ditches, backyards, rain pools
Typical location: Rio Grande in wetland areas

Secretive. This toad can be identified by its dry skin covered with many warts of different sizes. The overall body color is patterned olive-green or greenish over a darker color with a light stripe down the middle of the back. The belly is whitish and there are many dark spots on the chest between the forelegs. It lives near permanent water and rests in shallow burrows during the day.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
Canyon Treefrog

Photo: Beth Cortright

Canyon Treefrog

(Hyla arenicolor)

Family: Hylidae (Treefrogs)
Size: 1.3 - 2.3 in (3 - 6 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: arid areas close to rocky washes, running water and permanent pools
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

In the spring, the walls of White Rock canyon echo with the call ("ba-a-a") of the Canyon Treefrog. This frog is camouflaged, and its color depends of the rocks to which it clings. The tips of the toes are expanded into small adhesive disks that allow the frog to cling tightly to rock surfaces. While this frog may be mistaken for a toad, it is distinguished from toads by its large toe pads and the unique shape of the iris of its eye. The size varies, but these frogs are smaller than the palm of one's hand. The frog breeds in streams and in rain pools on rock cliffs.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    Featured    
Western Chorus Frog

Photo: Teralene Foxx

Western Chorus Frog, Stripped Chorus Frog

(Pseudacris triseriata)

Family: Hylidae (Treefrogs)
Size: 0.8 - 1.5 in (2 - 4 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: grassy agricultural areas, suburbs, and woodlands

This is a brown, olive-green or grayish frog with a dark stripe that extends through the nostril to the groin. It is small, less than 2 in (5 cm), but it has a mighty loud voice and is usually heard, not seen. In the early spring (April-March) the "crrrreeek" or "prrreep" (like the sound made by running a fingernail over the small teeth of a comb) can be heard in areas where there is still or slow-moving water.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
American Bullfrog

Photo: Teralene Foxx

American Bullfrog

Photo: Akkana Peck

American Bullfrog

(Rana catesbeiana, Lithobates catesbeianus)

Family: Ranidae (True Frogs)
Size: 3.5 - 8 in (9 - 20 cm)

Status: introduced; common
Habitat: slow-moving water
Typical location: Rio Grande

A large, non-native frog. It eats almost anything that moves, including native amphibians, thus making it a problematic invasive species.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
New Mexico Spadefoot Toad

Photo: Teralene Foxx

New Mexico Spadefoot Toad

Photo: J.N. Stuart

New Mexico Spadefoot Toad

(Spea multiplicata)

Family: Scaphiopodidae (Spadefoot Toads)
Size: 1.5 - 2.3 in (4 - 6 cm)

Status: native; uncommon
Habitat: arid and semiarid areas near breeding pools
Typical location: Rio Grande at lower elevations, White Rock Canyon

Nocturnal. There are two species of spadefoot toads that may be found in New Mexico, the New Mexico Spadefoot (S. multiplicata) and the Plains Spadefoot (S. bombifrons). All spadefoots have smooth skin and darkened horn spades on their hind feet. They have vertical pupils in their eyes. The species spends most of its life buried in soil, emerging to breed only when conditions are right. Spadefoot toads are adapted to arid conditions. When the summer temperature and moisture is just right they will quickly breed and produce hundreds of tadpoles. Some years they do not breed at all.

Tracks   Info    Photos   Distribution    
juvenile

Photo: juvenile by Mouser Williams

adult

Photo: adult by Beth Cortwright

Western Tiger Salamander

(Ambystoma mavortium)

Family: Ambystomatidae (Mole Salamanders)
Size: 6 - 13.4 in (15 - 34 cm)

Status: native; common
Habitat: deep burrows, generally near water

Secretive. This large, stocky, colorful (black with yellow, white or cream spots) salamander lives its entire life underground, emerging only to reproduce. The Tiger Salamander is terrestrial as an adult but returns to the water to reproduce. The female salamander lays her eggs in water (ponds, pools, slow moving streams, sewage lagoons). Soon the eggs hatch into free swimming larvae called waterdogs, which can be distinguished from tadpoles of frogs by the external gills. The adults are primarily burrowing animals and are active above ground only during wet periods. They can be found in animal burrows, under porches, and in basements of buildings. They eat other amphibians, small mice, earthworms and large insects.

Info    Photos   Distribution