Reptiles and Amphibians


The Middle Rio Grande Bosque ecosystem is a narrow corridor of riparian habitat dominated by large stands of cottonwood trees (Populusdeltoideswislizeni).  This gallery forest is commonly referred to as the Bosque—meaning “Woods” in Spanish.  The Bosque is a great place to observe a variety of wildlife, including about thirty-five (35) species and subspecies of reptiles and amphibians.

The dominant cottonwoods provide sparse to dense canopy along the river, which generally produces a significantly more mesic environment than found in adjacent upland scrub or grassland.  Cottonwood forests also create a thick leaf litter, which provides cover for many ground-dwelling species.   The understory in the Bosque is composed of a number of common native plants, including: Red Willow (Salixexigua), Seepwillow (Baccharissalicifolia) and Rough Cockleburr (Xanthium strumarium).  These shrubs enhance the value of the native habitat.  Unfortunately, introduced species such as Salt Cedar (Tamarixchinensis), Russian olive (Elaeagnusangustifolia) and Siberian Elm (Ulmuspumila) are (literally) a growing problem.  Alteration of the Bosque habitat by these invasive species degrades its value for almost all other native species of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian.


Family Colubridae – Non-venomous

New Mexico Gartersnake – Thamnophis sirtalisdorsalis

Western Black-necked Gartersnake – Thamnophis cyropsis cyrtopsis

Wandering Garter Snake – Thamnophis elegans vagrans

Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer – Coluber constrictor flaviventris

Painted Desert Glossy Snake – Arizona elegansphilipi 

Regal Ring-necked Snake –Diadophis punctatus regalis

Plains Hog-nosed Snake – Heterodon nasicus nasicus

Texas Nightsnake – Hypsilena torquata janii

Western Coachwhip – Masticophis flagellum testaceus

Sonoran Gophersnake – Pituophis catenifer affinis 

Texas Long-nosed Snake – Rhinocheiluslecontei tessellates 

Plains Black-headed Snake – Tantilla nigiceps 

  Family Viperidae – Venomous

Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake – Crotalus atrox

Prairie Rattlesnake – Crotalus viridis viridis


Family Phrynosomatidae

Hernandez’s Short-horned Lizard – Phrynosoma hernandesi hernandesi

Round-tailed Horned Lizard – Phrynosoma modestum

Eastern Fence Lizard – Sceloporus undulate

Plateau Lizard – Sceloporus tristichus 

Sagebrush Lizard – Sceloporus graciousius

Speckled Earless Lizard – Holbrookia maculate approximans

Eastern Side-blotched Lizard – Uta stansburiana stejnegeri 

  Family Scincidae – Skinks

Great Plains Skink – Eumeces obsoletus

  Family Teiidai – Whiptails

Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail – Aspidoscelis exsanguis

Plains Striped Whiptail – Aspidoscelis inornata llanuras

Plateau Striped Whiptail – Aspidoscelis velox

 New Mexico Whiptail – Aspidoscelis neomexicanus


  Family Emydidae

Western Painted Turtle – Chrysemys picta belli

Red-eared Slider – Trachemys scripta elegans

Texas Spiny Softshell – Apalone spiniferae moryi

Eastern Snapping Turtle – Chelydra serpentine serpentine

Ornate Box Turtle – Terrapene ornate


Barred Tiger Salamander – Ambystomatigrinummavortium


  Family Hylidae – Tree Frogs

Canyon Chorus Frog – Hyla arenicolor

  Family Ranidae – True Frogs

Northern Leopard Frog – Rana pipiens

Bullfrog – Rana catesbeiana

  Family Pelobatidae – Spadefoots

Plains Spadefoot – Spea bombifrons 

Couch’s Spadefoot – Spea couchii 

New Mexico Spadefoot – Spea multiplicata stagnalis

  Family Bufonidae – Toads

Great Plains Toad – Bufo cognatus

Woodhouse Toad – Bufo woodhousii

This list was originally created by Scott Bulgrin and other members of the New Mexico Herpetological Society.  It is meant to serve as a guide to the reptiles and amphibians of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque.

Reproduced for educational purposes.

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