Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Herp Holiday 2011

When I returned home from our May herp holiday in the east Mojave, I thought about writing a post to showcase the gang's incredible finds.

But there were so many, I couldn't figure out where to start.

17 herp species - 16 reptiles and an amphib - in 3 days. 10 of the species first timers for me, and a few of those total lifelisters.

But, as I've now learned this year - go to the Mojave with a bunch of plant geeks, and you see more amazing flora than you'd ever think could exist in a desert.

Go to the Mojave with a bunch of herpers, and...

Well - you be the judge.

Here's what we saw...

granite mountains
Our main camp was in the Granite Mountains

kelso dunes
The beautiful Kelso Dunes was also a hot spot (argh - sorry)

desert lawnmower
Desert lawnmower with creosote-stained lips

gentle soul
We admired 3 of these gentle souls from telephoto distance. As a threatened species,
it's a must to give them that respect

The Prey - Fringe-toed Lizard, Uma scoparia

the predator stalks
The Predator - Leopard Lizard, Gambelia wislizenii

big chuck
Chuckwalla, Sauromalus obesus, a handsome herbivore

Another grazer - Desert Iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis

desert horned
Beauty Desert Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma platyrhinos

night lizard
Tiny Desert Night Lizard, Xantusia vigilis

mr. majestic
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus uniformis, just before he ravaged my finger

banded gecko
Mr. Attitude: Western Banded Gecko, Coleonyx variegatus

gilbert's skink
Gilbert's Skink, Plestiodon gilberti, in full mating cheekiness

The five slithers...

Glossy Snake, Arizona elegans

Lovely Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei

Shovel-nosed Snakes, Chionactis occipitalis - 2 color morphs (white is uncommon)

mojave green
Mojave Green Rattlesnake, Crotalus scutulatus

Sidewinder, Crotalus cerastes

And, the too cute phib we were quite surprised to find...

red-spotted cuteness
Red-spotted Toad, Bufo punctatus

Incredible, huh?

Thanks again Jake, John, Sean and Dave - that was a tour worth far more than the cost.

Can I book a seat on next year's trip yet?

Here's the full set of 162 photos, with many more of each species, and all the wildflowers.




  1. gosh, all of these are such gorgeous critters! the gecko "Mr Personality" stole the show tho!

  2. Tremendous! What a rich, herpy, lizardy, post. I am quite envious.

  3. Gaaah, I'm sick with envy... Wonderful photos - thanks for the Flickr link!

  4. Thanks for posting these. They turned out great. That gecko photo is too perfect. A great find at the tail end of the trip. It was a rare find during the daylight.

    I have been so late on my posting. Just getting a tortoise post up now. Your spot for next year is reserved! I think you have earned a permanent spot with your botany schooling and other contributions.

  5. The gecko is great! What beautiful shots all around.

  6. Oh, my. AMAzing!! How exciting for you, and now us. Hope your finger is alright. I think I recognize that pre-bite pose: pull the head back for more velocity (the windup), hold that finger with both hands...

    And WOW is that gecko ADORABLE. "Hi!"

    AWEsome. LOVE Kelso dunes (*sigh*).

  7. Thanks for this post with such wonderful photos. It makes me nostalgic for my own younger years in So Cal.
    The Long-nosed Snake and Fringe-toed Lizard made me envious.

  8. Oh man!!! What a trip!!

    I never cease to be amazed at the massively different herp communities you have in the west. I mean...I've read about them in books, but have never seen them.

    Aside from Bufo, Crotalus, Sceloperus and Plestiodon we don't even have anything in the same GENUS as the herps in your photos!

    To me, they're like dragons and unicorns! :)

    Chuckwallas, and cerastes, and the long-nosed snake!!!


  9. biobabbler: I have a great series of live action bite shots, but will have to get randomthruth's permission to post them over at my place. They make me laugh.

  10. Yep - the gecko was quite a show stealer. Barking, whining, lunging...

    JK - feel free to post your pics of me in the magister grip - our man Sean already put one up. :)


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