Top left: Horned Lizard, NPS photo 
Top Right: Gopher Snake, USGS photo 
Bottom: Arboreal Salamander, NPS photo

Thirty four species of reptiles and amphibians (known collectively as herpetofauna) can be found in a variety of habitats in Coastal Southern California national parks. These parks make up one of the richest herpetofaunas regions in the United States and an excellent location for conducting herpetofaunal research and studies.

  • Despite its small size, Cabrillo National Monument and the Point Loma peninsula is home to an amazing 12 herpetofauna species.
  • Eight species of herpetofauna species can be found on the Channel Islands. One of those species, the Island night lizard, is an endemic species on Santa Barbara Island.
  • The Santa Monica Mountains has the most diverse assemblage of herpetofauna with 32 species occurring within the park boundary.

Unfortunately, much of the habitat in Southern California has been significantly altered or destroyed by urban development, habitat fragmentation and land use changes. Evaluation of historic data suggests that herpetofauna species in the Santa Monica Mountains and Cabrillo National Monument are in decline. In Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 11 of the 32 species of herpetofauna are state- or federally-listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Seven of the 19 species of herpetofauna historically known to occur at Cabrillo National Monument or on Point Loma peninsula are now thought to have been extirpated. Threats to reptiles and amphibians in this region include habitat loss, pollution, non-native species, climate change, increased ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB), and disease.