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Catalina Island Conservancy

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Photo by Dr. Carlos de la Rosa

December 2007

What are 'Herps,' and where can you find them?

It's not only fish that have scales. 

Most reptiles, including snakes and lizards, are covered with scales.  Amphibians, on the other hand, have smooth, moist skins, that give them a slimy or wet appearance.
Together, reptiles and amphibians are known as "Herps" from the word Herpetologist (the people who study them).

Scaly reptiles native to Catalina include five species of snakes and three lizards. Slimy amphibians native to the Island include two salamanders and one frog. This frog, however, does not count the bullfrog that was introduced and is not native. 

While it doesn't sound like an impressive list, all the native species had to arrive to the Island perched atop debris or driftwood that floated across the channel from the mainland.  Or perhaps some of their eggs were carried into Catalina's streams or ponds on the legs of wading birds.

Catalina reptile and amphibian species are threatened by predators such as feral cats (even the mighty rattlesnake can fall prey to them) and by invasive species such as the bullfrog. 

Learn more about these critters in the Photo Gallery and help us protect the beautiful, scaly and slimy Catalina herps.

Slither here!