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Reptiles & Amphibians

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Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake
Gopher snakes are the most frequently seen snake at Lake Perris SRA. These snakes are NOT venomous. Venomous snakes have distinctly triangular heads, where their nose is much narrower than the back of their head. Snakes like the gopher snake, rosy boa, and king snake have slender heads that are very nearly the same size and shape as the rest of their body.

Gopher snakes can grow very large-- up to 7 feet long!. They are one of the most widespread snakes in North America: They can be found from the Pacific to the Atlantic and range from as far south as Veracruz, Mexico all the way north to Canada.

When startled, these snakes will hiss loudly and rattle their tail in imitation of a rattlesnake. It's an excellent deterrent to would-be predators and nosey humans.


References:
Habitats, Plants, and Wildlife of Riverside County. (2015). Riverside: Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency. 


Red Diamond Rattlesnake

Rattle Snake

Is it a rattlesnake? Rattlesnakes can be identified by their namesake rattle on the end of their tail, as well as the distinctly triangular shape of their heads: Their nose is much narrower than the back of their head. Venomous snakes can be identified from non-venomous snakes most often by the shape of their head.

These rattlesnakes range from the coast to the deserts to the mountain, sometimes as high as 5,000 feet above sea level. They prefer the dense chaparral brush, boulders, and cactus that makes up much of Lake Perris SRA. They primarily eat small mammals such as rabbits and ground squirrels (of which Lake Perris has plenty), as well as unsuspecting birds. Visitors are most likely to encounter these snakes in the spring, coiled up in the shelter of a boulder, crossing the road at night, or curled up on the asphalt digesting their latest meal.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to stay on obvious hiking trails and avoid "trail blazing." Please keep your pets off of unpaved trails, for their own safety. Vipers such as the rattlesnake are never safe to handle, not even when dead. Dead rattlesnakes have been known to bite, because their bodies can still retain some reflex capability. If you are bitten, call 911 and seek help immediately.

References:
Habitats, Plants, and Wildlife of Riverside County. (2015). Riverside: Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency.

Image: Bruce Willhite, LPSRA Staff


Western Spadefoot Toad

Toad

These shy fellows prefer grassland, scrub, and chaparral. They are nocturnal and active only during the wet season and during summer storms. They typically eat beetles, ants, spiders, flies, caterpillars, and other insects. They are named for the wedge-shaped black spade on each hind foot that the toad uses for digging burrows to escape the desert heat.

References:
Habitats, Plants, and Wildlife of Riverside County. (2015). Riverside: Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency.
Image: Lucas Dickey, LPSRA Staff


Desert Banded Gecko (Alt. San Diego Banded Gecko)

Banded Gecko
Image: Lucas Dickey, LPSRA Staff



Gecko

Side-Blotched Lizard

These small lizards are nature's bug control. They live in deserts with coarse soil and low-growing shrubs. As the year grows colder, these animals retreat to burrows and dens and become inactive, only to pop back up on any warm day of the year. They are easily identified by the single, dark blue or black spot on their sides, just behind their front legs.

References:
Habitats, Plants, and Wildlife of Riverside County. (2015). Riverside: Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency.