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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
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: costal grooves essentially absent.
• Grainy skin: terrestrial; smooth: larva and breeding
aquatic adult.
• Bright belly to warn of tetrodotoxin.
• Habitat: Aquatic, Forest
• Diet: Invertebrates and vertebrates
• Name means “salamander.
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
• Range in California: 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.
Western Spadefoot Toad+
Spea hammondii
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.
California Toad
Bufo (Anaxyrus) boreas halophilus
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.
Pacific Treefrog
Pseudacris regilla (sierra)
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.
California Red-legged Frog+
Rana (Lithobates) draytonii
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.
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog+
Rana (Lithobates) boylii
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.
Bullfrog
Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana
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