Learn about the species of reptiles that call Bolsa Chica home:

Scientific Name: Lampropeltis getula californiae
Classification: Non-venomous
Family: Colubridae
Diet: They are carnivores, usually constricting and eating small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and eggs. They can even eat other snakes, even venomous ones, because they possess an enzyme that allows them to break down venom’s toxins thus earning them the “king” title.
Physical Characteristics: There is variation in patterns but the most common is light colored banding on a darker background on the snake. This coloration helps to break up the snake’s body outline, so it is less noticeable to predators.
Size: 2.5‑3.5ft. on average
Lifespan: They live an average of 20-30 years.
Activity: They are crepuscular which means they are most active between twilight/ sunset to sundown.
Predators: Big birds of prey like hawks as well as raccoons eat kingsnakes.
Reproduction: They lay 3-24 eggs per clutch usually once a year but sometimes twice (oviparous) and those hatchlings can have different color patterns from their parents and siblings.
Conservation: Not endangered/ of little concern
Additional Facts:
They typically are found in California and neighboring states, from Southern Oregon to Northern Mexico.
They can mimic rattlesnakes by rattling their tails and making similar noises when agitated.

BCC Representative: Victoria (top right tank) and Arthur (bottom right tank)

Scientific Nam: Chelonia mydas
Classification: Non-venomous
Family: Cheloniidae
Diet: Adults eat seagrasses and algae while juveniles eat jellies and invertebrates in addition to seagrass.
Physical Characteristics: Sea turtles have a small head with flippers that have single claws. They have a heart-shaped shell which can vary in color. In adults the upper part of the shell called the carapace is smooth and light to brown. The underside of the shell, also called the plastron, can be white to yellow. For hatchlings they have a black carapace and white plastron. In general green sea turtles don’t have teeth but a round beak with serrated edges to tear up their food.
Size: 3-4ft. in length.
Lifespan: They can live up to eighty years, although the exact lifespan is unknown.
Activity: They are typically diurnal but can exhibit nocturnal behavior.
Predators: Sharks are natural predators to adult turtles while a long list of other animals eat small hatchlings.
Reproduction: Turtles mate and the female lays eggs that she buries in the sand before leaving. Turtles can lay eggs several times per season. After 60 days these eggs hatch and the turtles head out to the sea.
Conservation status: Endangered (under the Endangered Species Act).
Additional facts:
Their flippers, neck, and head are not retractile.
Since they are cold blooded, they have a slow metabolic rate.
They can not breathe underwater, so they have to swim to the surface to breathe air, but they can hold their breath for four to seven hours.
Green sea turtles live in the open ocean and nearshore waters.

BCC Representative: None

Scientific Name: Anniella stebbinsi
Classification: non-venomous
Family: Pygopodidae
Diet: They eat insects, bugs, and spiders.
Physical characteristics: They are not a snake but a gecko with missing/reduced limbs and are distinguishable from snakes via their ear openings and movable eyelids.
Size: 3-4 ft long
Lifespan: They live for 20 years in captivity but it is unknown how long they live on average in the wild.
Activity: They are crepuscular, so active during dawn and dusk.
Predators: Other lizards, snakes, birds, and cats.
Reproduction: They mate once a year after hibernation and the female lays about 8 eggs 10 weeks after mating. The female protects these eggs until they hatch.
Conservation status: Currently up for recommendation as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.
Additional facts:
It can detach its tail when in danger as most lizards can
Often referred to as a glass snake

BCC Representative: None

Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer
Classification: Non-venomous
Family: Colubridae
Diet: Small mammals and birds
Physical characteristics: Splotchy dark markings on its yellow/brownish back
Size: Can grow up to 6 feet long
Lifespan: They live an average of 12-15 years in the wild.
Activity: Gopher snakes are diurnal which means they are awake and active during the day and asleep at night.
Predators: Coyotes and red tailed hawks are a few of their natural predators.
Reproduction: They lay a batch of 3-9 eggs once a year. (oviparous)
Conservation status: Least concern

BCC Representative: Dann (bottom left tank)

Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus helleri
Classification: Venomous
Family: Viperidae
Diet: Younger snakes feed mainly on lizards, while adult snakes will eat a broader variety of animals like birds, snakes, frogs, and small mammals
Physical characteristics: Rattlesnakes blend into their surroundings via their coloration which can vary from brown to gray/green with spots/stripes that can be brown, gray, olive, tan or black on the back of the snake. At the end of the tail is the “rattle” part of the rattlesnake which is actually just made up of loosely jointed, hollow, dry skin segments.
Size: They can grow to be between 2 and 4 feet long.
Lifespan: 10 to 20 years.
Activity: Most active at night.
Predators: Natural predators include coyotes and large birds of prey.
Conservation status: Not considered endangered or threatened
Reproduction: Once every 3 years the mother snake carries eggs and gives live birth to her offspring. (ovoviviparous)
Additional facts:
Native to California
Rattlesnakes on Catalina are almost completely black in coloration with no spots

BCC Representative: None

Scientific Name: Uta stansburiana
Classification: Non-venomous
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Diet: Mainly insects, but will also eat scorpions as well.
Physical Characteristics: Small, brownish-gray lizard with smooth granular scales on the back, larger scales on the heads and limbs, and a long, thin tail. Males are more colorful than females, having blue speckles on the upper surfaces, which are most visible during the light phase. The throat is marked with blue, orange, or yellow. Males often have many blue speckles on the tail and the posterior of the body.
Size: 1.5 – 2.5 inches long, not including tail.
Lifespan: Only about 1 year.
Activity: Mostly active during the day.
Predators: Big birds of prey like hawks as well as raccoons eat kingsnakes.
Reproduction: Mating strategies mirror a game of rock-paper-scissors. Females lay eggs (oviparous). Head over to this page from the National Parks Service to learn more about the mating strategy of the side-blotched lizard!
Conservation: Least Concern

BCC Representative: None

Scientific Name: Sceloporus occidentalis
Classification: non-venomous
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Diet: They are carnivorous eating beetles, ants, spiders, flies, and other small insects.
Physical characteristics: Small lizard that has large, overlapping keeled scales with spines on top on their back and sides. They are mostly brown, gray, or black in color with narrow irregular crossbars. Males have blue bellies while females have plain or light blue bellies.
Size: Can grow up to 4 inches long
Lifespan: They live on average 5-7 years
Activity: They are diurnal, mostly active during the day, unless there are times of extreme heat or cold then they become less active.
Predators: Snakes, coyotes, and big birds of prey are natural predators to this lizard.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Reproduction: Female lizards lay eggs in the soil that hatch after 10 weeks and depending on the age of the lizard they can have 1-4 clutches a year.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Additional facts:
Commonly confused with the sagebrush lizard
They have a protein in their blood that protects them from contracting Lyme disease if bitten by an infected tick while simultaneously curing that tick of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

BCC Representative: Smitty (bottom middle tank)

Get to know our animal ambassadors!

A little bit about me, Bobo, the sweetheart of the center and how I came to be at the interpretive center. I’m around 25 years old and I was a pet snake before I was surrendered to the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, and now spend my time lounging when I’m not educating visitors on how AWESOME Coastal Rosy Boas are! I sometimes hear the staff tell kids that I’ve been here since around 2014.  I have pretty red/rosy stripes on my cream body but other Coastal Rosy Boas can have other variations like orange or blue or brown colorations. I promise I’m not dangerous. I’m actually non-venomous (and all my friends here are too!) which means that if I bite no venom comes out of my fangs!  I almost never bite, and have become the go-to snake for training new interns and volunteers on how to safely interact with ambassador snakes like me and my friends here at the interpretive center.

Hi, I’m Dann, and I’ve been here since 2017. I actually was born in a house as a hatchling, but when I got older my caretaker, who is a friend of the Conservancy, thought I would be good at educating visitors all about Gopher Snakes like me, even though I’m on the shy side. If you don’t see me in my tank, I may be nestled into my hide, or buried deep in my bedding.

Hi folks, the three of us were caught with a permit at Bolsa Chica and now inform visitors on how awesome we are and remind visitors to keep an eye out for our fellow friends while you are out on the trail!

The two of us in the top tank southern alligator lizards also known as Elgaria multicarinata webbi. Our names are Morrissey and Snicket (named after Lemony Snicket), and we’ve been hanging out at the interpretive center since around 2017. Our friend Nibbles, who the staff found in 2022, lives in the classroom, mostly because he’s too small to live with us, and our species is a bit territorial. We don’t get handled, as we don’t like being touched very much, and you can usually find us lounging in one of our hides. A fun fact about our species is that our tail is semi prehensile, can partially support our body weight, so it allows us to grab branches when we climb!

The lizard friend in the bottom middle tank doesn’t currently have a name, but is a western fence lizard. He’s not very social, so you won’t see him often, but you may get to see him hunting crickets during our live animal feedings! If you do see him, try to be quiet, as he’s easily spooked by loud noises.

One upon a time, I was someone’s pet before I slithered on over to the interpretive center after being surrendered. I’ve been here a long time – even longer than the staff have! I moved in somewhere around 2011 or 2012. Now I’m around 30 years old and get to spend my time educating visitors on how amazing California kingsnakes like me are! Don’t let my age fool you, I’m still as spry and energetic as a young snake, and love putting on a show for visitors to the interpretive center. I lost my tail due to a few bad sheds before I came to the interpretive center, but even with out it, I’m just over 5 feet long!

Like my friend Dann, I was actually was born in a house as a hatchling, but when I got older my caretaker thought I would be a good addition to the BCC team of animal ambassadors, and I’ve been here since 2018! I’ve had a couple bad sheds, which is why my eye looks a little funny, but I never let that get me down. I’m always super excited to meet kids during our education events and hang out with the staff members. Also, my favorite meal is mice which you can catch me eating during feeding time!

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