Reptiles and Amphibians

Spotted whiptail by Jim Rorabaugh, USFWS

Chiricahua leopard frog | Desert snakes | Desert tortoise

Gila monster | Horned lizard | Rattlesnakes

Sonoran spotted whiptail | Spiny lizard

Sonoran desert toad Note: very dangerous to pets

If you're new to the desert you may be surprised at how many reptiles you don't see. Contrary to popular imagination, you're not likely to be tripping over snakes and lizards everywhere you go. Unless you're actually hunting them out you probably won't see more than a couple of reptiles in a whole season of warm days. But don't go walking on the desert on a warm summer night without a flashlight. Snakes, including rattlesnakes, do most of their hunting in darkness or semi-light. Pet owners should be aware of the danger to their pets if they ingest toad venom by licking or biting a Sonoran desert toad. This can be a serious matter that could kill your pet. Check out the photo so you know what to look out for.

Both snakes and lizards get most of their water from fluids found in the plants and animals they eat. Not being dependent on free water is a great advantage to them in their arid environment.

Gila monster warning display

Recommended reading:
Brennan, Thomas C. and Andrew T. Holycross. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Phoenix: Arizona Game and Fish Department, 2006.

The Arizona Ecological Services Southwest division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has expanded their photo library of reptiles. Many pictures of snakes and other reptiles can be found at their image link:

Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Arizona

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has published an excellent new guide to all the amphibians and reptiles of the state. See it here. You can order it directly from AGF for $12 by downloading the Publication Order form linked to that page.