Amphibians and reptiles

Reptiles and amphibians are found throughout the County. They are dependent on the condition of creeks and riparian habitat during a part or all their life stages, and they may use upland terrestrial habitats during part of the life-cycles.


Amphibian species need diverse, healthy riparian vegetation and reliable sources of clean water to survive.

Pacific giant salamanders

Pacific giant salamanders are the largest terrestrial salamander in the Pacific Northwest. Reaching 13 inches in length, they are one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in the world. They breed in streams and need shady streambanks and woody debris for protection.

California red-legged frogs

The California red-legged frog is a rare amphibian species found almost entirely in California. Today, it is a threatened species. California red-legged frogs forage and breed in ponds and streams. They prefer this type of habitat because of emergent plants such as sedges and rushes that provide cover and nesting substrates.

Foothill yellow-legged frogs

Foothill yellow-legged frogs are a close relative of California red-legged frogs. Yellow-legged frogs also utilize perennial, rocky streams. They are also a threatened species.

Sierran treefrogs

Sierran tree frogs are the west coast's most prevalent and adaptable frog species. They use many areas for breeding and year-round habitat, including:

  • Streams
  • Ponds
  • Moist woodlands
  • Developed areas

Amphibian habitats

Amphibians and other wildlife use aquatic habitats to breed but may move to upland habitats during other life stages. For example, California red-legged frogs and California newts migrate from upland habitats to ponds or slow-flowing streams to breed.


Reptiles such as snakes and lizards inhabit the upland, valley floor, and bay land areas. Much less dependent on stream corridors, they use a variety of habitats.

Northwestern Pond turtles

Northwestern pond turtles live in or near ponds and creeks. They prefer slow-moving water and need suitable rocks or logs for basking sites and underwater retreats. Pond turtle populations are declining and now they are a species of concern.

Other common reptiles inhabit urban valley floors to ridge tops grasslands, including:

  • Gopher snakes
  • Garter snakes
  • Western fence lizards
  • Alligator lizards


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