Reptiles of Eaton County

Great Basin Fence Lizard

(Sceloporus occidentalis lonipipes)

A very common lizard in most habitats, it is often seen on fences, rocks, logs, and on the ground in all but the coldest winter months. It is light gray to almost black above, with brilliant metallic-blue throat and belly sides (slightly paler in females), and spiny scales. It is quite active, basking in the sun and feeding on small arthropods. The males exhibit a fascinating “push-up” behavior for courtship and defense. Total length can reach about six inches.

Photos by Chuck Haznedl

Side-blotched Lizard

(Sceloporus occidentalis lonipipes)

Note the large black splotch behind the front legs which gives this little guy his common name.

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

Western Whiptail Lizard

(Cnemidophorus tigris)

Here is a handsome pair of courting whiptails. They blend in extremely well with their surroundings.

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

California King Snake

(Lampropeltis getulus)

Distinguishable by the bands of tan and brown.

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

Southern Alligator Lizard

(Elgaria multicarinata)

The largest lizard in our area, it can reach a length of about one foot. Note the zigzag pattern of bands on the back of this juvenile.

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

Striped Racer

(Masticophis lateralis)

Common in chaparral, oak woodland, and washes, this snake is dark olive to almost black with a yellow stripe along each side. A very fast snake, it feeds on lizards, rodents, and birds. 

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

Gopher Snake

(Pituophis catenifer)

The head of the gopher snake is approximately the same width as its neck.

Photo by Chuck Haznedl

Garter Snake

(Thamnophis hammondii)

While the two-striped garter snake is nonvenomous, its saliva contains a toxin that it uses to capture prey. Their diet consists of fish, fish eggs, and tadpoles.

Pacific Rattlesnake

(Crotalus viridis)

This is the only dangerously venomous snake in coastal Los Angeles County. It has somewhat diamond-shaped blotches down the back, each outlined in lighter scales. It is easily identified by the presence of rattles on a blunt tail, and by the broad head with a narrow neck, creating a trianglular shape.

Venomous & Non-Venomous Snakes

The head and neck of the non-venomous gopher snake are nearly the same width. Bulges at the base of a rattlesnake’s head hold venom glands, forming a triangular shape.

Caution: this comparison is true for snakes in Eaton Canyon, but not necessarily other parts of the world or even this country. Never handle a snake in the wild!

Photos by Chuck Haznedl