A few New Mexico reptiles and amphibians


This page was started in June 2020 and will grow as I acquire additional images. Photos are organized by broad category (such as "lizards"), genus, and species.


I'm grateful Joshua Emms of the New Mexico Herpetological Society for his repeated help with IDs. Even so, please don't take my IDs as authoritative. These pages of nature photos represent one person's voyage of discovery, not the studies of a trained expert. If you see something I've misidentified, please contact me via my "Contact" page, which is tabbed at the top.

Reptiles: Lizards


Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis exsanguis)


New Mexico Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana)

My ID is based on the seven light yellow stripes (including a central one the full length of the body), the subtle spots between some of the stripes, and the blue end of the tail (bright blue in juveniles, faded in adults).


Desert Grassland Whiptail (Aspidoscelis uniparens)

My ID is based on the six light yellow stripes, the partial seventh (central) stripe on the neck, the lack of spots, and the dull-colored tail (which, however, can be blue on juveniles).


Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)


Hernandez's Short-Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi hernandesi)

I believe that all of my photos are of Hernandez's Short-Horned Lizards. They lack the obvious white central back stripe of the Texas Horned Lizard (P. cornutum), and Roundtail Horned Lizards (P. modestum) don't have bodies with toothy edges. The color variations are due to each lizard's need to blend in with its local setting. For a YouTube video of one of these "horny toads," please click here.


Southwestern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi)

Look for a broad light gray stripe down the lizard's back. All of these photos were taken in Bernalillo County, and range is one way to distinguish Southwestern fence lizards from from the very similar plateau lizard and prairie lizard.


In one of the April 2021 photos (both of the same individual), the male's turquoise belly patch and one of his two throat patches are obvious. In my June 2021 photo the turquoise belly patch is even more obvious but the throat patch is less so.

Reptiles: Snakes


Colubridae: Coachwhip (Coluber flagellum)


Viperidae: Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

Don't expect any photos of rattlesnakes unless they're telephoto shots. But notice how this snake's color matches so well with its surroundings.

Reptiles: Turtles


Emydidae: Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta belli)

Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta belli, New Mexico
Rio Grande Bosque, Albuquerque, April 2021

To me, this turtle looks a lot like a Red-Eared Slider but without the prominent red "ear" mark. Instead, look for red at the edges of the carapace.


Emydidae: Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

In the Pecos River drainage these turtles are native, but along the Rio Grande in New Mexico they're invasive. The source of the invasion was people discarding unwanted pet turtles. The turtle on the log is stretching out its hind legs to maximize solar gain.


The markings on Red-Eared Sliders are distinctive, but older individuals lose those markings and become mostly dark. One of those older individuals is shown here.


Trionychidae: Texas Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera emoryi)

In Albuquerque, your best bet for seeing these otherwise shy turtles is to visit the nature ponds in the Bosque at the end of Lead Avenue. If you're at the observer stand at the more northerly of the two ponds, when it's warm and someone's feeding the ducks (hopefully not bread!), fish and turtles will swim up to steal a bit of the ducks' lunch. Most of the turtles will be red-eared sliders but a few will be softshell turtles.


You may also see these turtles sunning at the water's edge, but they'll slide into the water once they realize you're paying attention to them. I've included my grainier distant shots because they show the turtles' coloration more clearly than the in-the-water close-ups.

Amphibians: Frogs


Red-Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus)

According to the New Mexico Herpetological Society, "This is a toad of arroyos, desert streams, springs, tinajas, and cattle tanks, often in rocky areas, but can also be found on rivers and on the edges of agriculture. Occurs at or near permanent or temporary waters. Even in the driest desert mountain ranges, this toad can be found breeding in rain-filled tinajas." My own finds fit that habitat description. I first found found this toad in July 2020, at the edge of a channelized, sometimes wet-bottomed arroyo in what is otherwise dryland. In July 2021 I found my second example where Tijeras Arroyo empties into the Rio Grande.


American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

Along the Rio Grande in New Mexico, American Bullfrogs are an introduced species. Specifically, they were introduced so people could eat them.