Home | Ecology & Geology | Rivers, Wetlands, Precipitation & Aquifers | Ecosystems of Uvalde County | Wildlife | Rare & Endangered Species | Herpetofaunal Studies | A Photographic Atlas of the Herpetofauna of South-central Texas | Contact Us & Links

Herpetofaunal Studies

An Inventory & Atlas of the Herpetofauna of Uvalde, County & South-central, Texas

Status & Abundance of Amphibians & Reptiles
By Karl R. Studenroth Jr.



1) To examine the herpetofaunal diversity, status & abundance of Uvalde Co & south-central  Texas.

2) To examine the ecological status & condition of Uvalde Co./south-central TX.




621 native herptofaunal sp. in U.S.; 225 sp in TX, 102+/- sp. in Uvalde Co area.


Herps play very important roles in ecosystems; in food chains, etc.


Herps control rodent & insect populations; Important for production of some medicines & antivenom.


Overall Herpetofaunal abundance has declined, some species have dropped drastically!

   Below are sections of the project proposal to the Wildlife Management Dept at SW TX College:



  The natural history of Uvalde County, Texas is one of the most diverse in the entire continental United States.  Uvalde County falls within two major physiographic regions of the U.S., the Interior Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plain. 

  These major physiographic regions can be further divided into two smaller ecoregions.  The subdivision of the Interior Plains within Uvalde County is the Edward’s Plateau (locally known as the Texas Hill Country) and occurs in the northern one-third of the County.  The subdivision of the Gulf Coastal Plain is the South Texas Plains and occurs in the southern two-thirds of the County. 

  The Edward’s Plateau can be further divided into the Balcones Canyon-lands.  The South Texas Plains can be further divided into the Northern Nueces Alluvial Plains and the Texas-Tamaulipan Thornscrub.  Detailed information about the natural history, physiography, geology and ecology of Uvalde County has been compiled [in previous pages of this website].

  For the purpose of this proposal it is most important to highlight that two major physiographic regions meet in Uvalde County, with several subdivisions providing a vast array of habitat and ecological conditions.  Due to this fact, Uvalde County is a crossroads for different groups of plants and animals that are highly varied in species from east to west and north to south.   

  The purpose of this proposal and research is to examine the herpetofaunal (amphibian & reptile) diversity and abundance of Uvalde County, Texas.  The amphibians and reptiles inhabiting Uvalde County and south-central Texas are some of the most diverse and unique in the entire United States.  Within the United States at least 621 herpetofaunal species are currently recognized (Collins).  Texas has one of the highest numbers of herpetofaunal species of any state in the U.S. with at least 225 native species inhabiting the State (Herps of Texas).  This herpetofaunal diversity is high in the biogeographical crossroads of Uvalde County and potentially at least 102 native species occur here (Studenroth).  A checklist of potential herpetofaunal species of Uvalde County and the region has been included below. 

  Amphibians and reptiles are often overlooked, but are one of the most important groups of animals in many ecosystems.  Many species form the base of the food chain, or play a critical role in the success and survival of higher vertebrate forms.  Herpetofauna also play a very important role in consuming insects, a number of which are harmful to humans and agriculture.  Snakes are also one of the greatest predators of rodents.  When rodent populations are not controlled they can consume high amounts of crops, spread human disease and cause fires by chewing on electrical wiring in buildings.  Amphibians and reptiles also possess many extraordinary life cycles and for relatively small animals can endure or adapt to extremes in temperature, climate and conditions.  Even species that are feared by humans, such as venomous snakes, can be used to produce anti-venom, medicines or other beneficial products.  When herpetofaunal abundance and balance is offset it has a ripple-effect on many other species, including humans.  Much can be learned by studying such a simple, yet complicated group of animals.  

  This research project will also examine many factors influencing the distribution and abundance of herpetofauna in the Uvalde region.  Factors examined will include: human impact, development and disturbance and alteration of native habitat; native habitat conditions; local trends of herpetofaunal abundance and distribution over time; and species adaptations and use of altered habitats.  When a species is documented its locality data will be recorded as: Natural (N), Ruderal (R), Developed (D) or Agricultural (A).  In as many cases as possible when an individual animal is documented in a natural habitat, the specific ecosystem type will be determined.

  Abundance and diversity of herpetofauna and many native species have been greatly impacted by human activities.  Many species have declined over Texas since the earliest explorations and development by European settlers.  As much as possible this study will examine those changes and herpetofaunal adaptations to human activities.

  Special attention will also be given to rare and endangered species occurrence (those listed and monitored by State and Federal agencies).  Reports will be provided to various agencies of rare species documented and data will be submitted to current monitoring programs for declining species such as the Texas Horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum).  Special surveys for unique and endemic species will also be conducted...    




  Data collected on species occurrence will be analyzed in many different ways and methods.  Habitat type and condition, species abundance, weather conditions and time of year are examples of results that will be gathered, discussed and analyzed.  Results will also be analyzed and used by GIS methods.  Maps will be produced of species occurrence and abundance across the County and region.  Photographs will be taken to document species and used for future identification purposes. 

  A biogeographical analysis of species occurrence and distribution will also be conducted from the study results.  Project results will also be used to develop a website, including a herpetofaunal checklist, etc.  

  I have made changes to the Checklist of Potential Herpetofauna (Addendum 1) since the first draft of this proposal after reviewing additional publications.  Changes in the herpetofaunal checklist will continue as new information is analyzed and new species are documented in the study area.  Also, considerable changes have occurred in herpetofaunal taxonomy and classification in recent years.  Some Genus and Species names have changed.  These additions reflect changes based on DNA and genetic review of groups of herpetofuana and specific species.  Some of these changes are controversial and are not fully accepted by the herpetofunal scientific community.  In most cases I have included old names and new names.  Debate over the use and acceptance of some names continues.       

  Since the first draft of this proposal a new list has been compiled: Target Herpetofaunal Species.  These include rare and endangered species, unique and endemic species or species of other significant interest.  This list is found in Addendum 2.  Special searches and efforts will be conducted to document these species.

  The greater importance of all the information gathered can be interpreted and used in many ways.  This will be an opportunity to conduct original research within Uvalde County and to better understand and monitor the status of amphibians and reptiles.  A final report will be submitted to the Wildlife Management Department at Southwest Texas Junior College, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other interested organizations and parties.  The potential to contribute to the knowledge and management of rare and endangered species also occurs within this study.


Special Note: This research is being conducted through the Wildlife Management Department at Southwest Texas Junior College, under a permit through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


Addendum #1: A Checklist of Potential Herpetofauna (Amphibians & Reptiles)

of Uvalde County & South-Central Texas


? Indicates the species may occur in the County or region.

() A scientific name within parenthesis indicates a new or disputed name.



Turtles (Testudines):


Kinosternidae (Mud & Musk turtles):

1) Yellow mud turtle - Kinosternon flavescens

?2) Mississippi Mud turtle - Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis

3) Stinkpot/Common Musk turtle - Sternotherus odoratus


Emydidae (Water & Box turtles):

?4) Texas Map turtle - Graptemys versa

5) Rio Grande cooter - Pseudemys gorzugi

6) Texas river cooter - Pseudemys texana

7) Ornate box turtle - Terrapene o. ornata

8) Red-eared slider - Trachemys scripta elegans


Chelydridae (Snapping turtles):

9) Common snapping turtle - Chelydra s. serpentina


Trionychidae (Softshell turtles):

10) Guadalupe spiny softshell turtle - Apalone spinifera guadalupensis


Testudinidae (Gopher tortoises):

11) Texas tortoise - Gopherus berlandieri


Lizards (Lacertilia):


Anguidae (Legless Lizards):

?1) Texas Alligator Lizard - Gerrhonotus infernalis

?2) Western Slender Glass Lizard - Ophisaurus a. attenuatus


Polychrotidae (Anoles):

3) Green Anole - Anolis carolinensis


Crotaphytidae (Collared & Leopard Lizards):

4) Eastern Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus collaris

5) Reticulate Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus reticulatus


Gekkonidae (Geckos):

6) Texas Banded Gecko - Coleonyx brevis


Phrynosomatidae (Sand, Horned & Spiny Lizards):

7) Texas Greater Earless Lizard - Cophosaurus texanus

8) Southern/Spot-tailed Earless Lizard - Holbrookia lacerata subcaudalis

9) Texas Horned Lizard - Phrynosoma cornutum

10) Roundtail Horned Lizard - Phrynosoma modestum

?11) Canyon Lizard - Sceloporus merriami

12) Texas Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus olivaceus

13) Crevice Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus poinsettii

14) Blue Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus serrifer

15) Southern Prairie Lizard - Sceloporus undulatus consobrinus (Sceloporus consobrinus)

16) Rosebelly Lizard - Sceloporus variabilis marmoratus

17) Eastern/Texas Tree Lizard - Urosaurus o. ornatus


Scincidae (Skinks):

18) Great Plains Skink – Eumeces (Plestiodon) obsoletus

19) Short-lined Skink - Eumeces (Plestiodon) tetragrammus brevilineatus

20) Ground Skink - Scincella lateralis


Teiidae (Whiptails):

21) Texas Spotted Whiptail – Cnemidophorus (Aspidoscelis) gularis

22) Trans-Pecos Striped Whiptail - Cnemidophorus (Aspidoscelis) inornatus heptagrammus

23) Laredo Striped Whiptail - Cnemidophorus (Aspidoscelis) laredoensis

?24) Marbled Whiptail - Cnemidophorus (Aspidoscelismarmoratus

25) Prairie Racerunner - Cnemidophorus (Aspidoscelis) sexlineatus viridis


Snakes (Serpentes):


Leptotyphlopidae (Blind Snakes):

1) Plains Blind Snake - Leptotyphlops d. dulcis

2) Trans-Pecos Blind Snake - Leptotyphlops humilis segregus



3) Texas Glossy Snake - Arizona elegans arenicola

4) Trans-Pecos Rat Snake - Bogertophis s. subocularis

5) Eastern Yellowbelly Racer - Coluber constrictor flaviventris

6) Texas Indigo Snake - Drymarchon melanurus erebennus

7) Baird's Rat Snake - Elaphe (Pantherophis) bairdi

8) Great Plains Rat Snake - Elaphe (Pantherophis) guttata emoryi

9) Texas Rat Snake – Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri (Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri)  

?10) Western Hooknose Snake - Gyalopion canum

?11) Grey-Banded Kingsnake - Lampropeltis alterna

?12) Prairie Kingsnake - Lampropeltis c. calligaster

13) Desert Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getula splendida

14) Mexican Milk Snake - Lampropeltis triangulum annulata  

15) Western Coachwhip - Masticophis flagellum testaceus

16) Schott's Whipsnake - Masticophis s. schotti

17) Central Texas Whipsnake - Masticophis taeniatus girardi

18) Rough Green Snake - Opheodrys aestivus

19) Bull Snake - Pituophis catenifer sayi

20) Texas Longnose Snake - Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus

21) Texas Patchnose Snake - Salvadora grahamiae lineata

22) Ground Snake - Sonora semiannulata

23) Flathead Snake - Tantilla gracilis

24) Southwestern Blackhead Snake - Tantilla hobartsmithi

25) Plains Blackhead Snake - Tantilla nigriceps



26) Prairie Ringneck Snake - Diadophis punctatus arnyi

27) Texas Night Snake - Hypsiglena torquata jani



28) Texas Coral Snake - Micrurus fulvuis tenere



29) Blotched Water Snake - Nerodia erythrogaster transversa

30) Diamondback Water Snake - Nerodia rhombifer

31) Texas Brown Snake - Storeria dekayi texana

32) Eastern Blackneck Garter Snake - Thamnophis cyrtopsis ocellatus

33) Checkered Garter Snake - Thamnophis marcianus

34) Redstripe Ribbon Snake - Thamnophis proximus rubrilineatus

35) Texas Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis annectens

36) Texas Lined Snake - Tropidoclonion lineatum texanum

37) Rough Earth Snake - Virginia striatula

?38) Western Earth Snake - Virginia valeriae



39) Mexican Hognose Snake - Heterodon nasicus kennerlyi

40) Eastern Hognose Snake - Heterodon platirhinos


Viperidae (Vipers), Crotalinae (Pit-Vipers):

41) Broad-banded Copperhead - Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus

42) Western Cottonmouth - Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma

43) Western Diamondback Rattlesnake - Crotalus atrox

44) Mottled Rock Rattlesnake - Crotalus l. lepidus

45) Northern Blacktail Rattlesnake - Crotalus m. molossus


Frogs & Toads (Anura):


Bufonidae (True Toads):

1) Eastern Green Toad – Bufo (Anaxyrus) d. debilis

2) Red-spotted Toad – Bufo (Anaxyrus) punctatus

3) Texas Toad - Bufo (Anaxyrus) speciosus

4) Gulf Coast Toad – Bufo valliceps (Ollotis nebulifer)

5) Woodhouse's Toad - Bufo woodhousei 


Hylidae (Treefrogs):

6) Blanchard’s Cricket Frog - Acris crepitans blanchardi

7) Cope's Gray Treefrog - Hyla chrysoscelis

8) Green Treefrog - Hyla cinerea

9) Gray Treefrog - Hyla versicolor 

10) Spotted Chorus Frog - Pseudacris clarkii

11) Strecker's Chorus Frog - Pseudacris streckeri


Leptodactylidae (Tropical Frogs):

12) Eastern Barking Frog - Eleutherodactylus (Craugastor) augusti

13) Cliff Chirping Frog - Eleutherodactylus marnockii

Microhylidae (Narrowmouth Toads):

14) Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad - Gastrophryne olivacea


Pelobatidae (Spadefoot Toads):

15) Couch's Spadefoot Toad - Scaphiopus couchii


Ranidae (True Frogs):

16) Rio Grande Leopard Frog - Rana (Lithobates) berlandieri

17) Bullfrog - Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana


Salamanders (Caudata):



1) Rio Grande Lesser Siren – Siren intermedia texana


Ambystomatidae (Mole Salamanders):

?2) Eastern Tiger Salamander - Ambystoma t. tigrinum


Plethodontidae (Lungless Salamanders):

?3) Cascade Caverns Salamander – Eurycea latitans (Possible occurrence based on TXPWD range map)

4) Texas Salamander - Eurycea neotenes

5) Valdina Farms Salamander - Eurycea troglodytes

6) Western Slimy Salamander - Plethodon albagula


Exotics/Non-native species:


Gekkonidae (Geckos):

1) Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus



Turtles: 11, Lizards: 25, Snakes: 45, Frogs: 17, Salamanders: 6, Exotics: 1. 

Total = 105 species.




Collins, Joseph T & Travis W. Taggart.  2009.  Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles & Crocodilians.  6th edition.  The Center for North American Herpetology.


Conant, Roger & Joseph T. Collins.  1998.  Peterson Field Guides.  Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern/Central North America.  Third edition, expanded.  Houghton Mifflin.


Dixon, James R.  2013.  Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas, 3rd edition.  Texas A&M University Press.   


Garrett, Judith M. & David G. Barker.  1987.  A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas.   Texas Monthly Press.


Tennant, Alan.  1984.  The Snakes of Texas.  Texas Monthly Press.


Tipton, Bob L., et al.  2012.  Texas Amphibians.  University of Texas Press.   


Werler, John E. & James R. Dixon.  2000.  Texas Snakes, Identification, Dsitribution and Natural History.  University of Texas Press. 


www.herpsoftexas.org/.  2013.  Herps of Texas. 


www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/maps/gis/ris/endangered_species/Texas Parks & Wildlife.  2013.  Rare, Threatened & Endangered Species by County. 


Addendum 2.  Target Herpetofaunal Species


Reason: LS = Listed State, LF = Listed Federal, TM = Tropical/Mexican species, BC = Big Bend/Chihuahuan desert, E = Endemic, US = Unusual/Specialized, P = Personal interest


? Indicates the species may occur in the County or region.




Common Name

Scientific Name


LS(T), TM, P

Texas tortoise

Gopherus berlandieri


R, P

? Texas Map turtle

Graptemys versa



Rio Grande Cooter

Pseudemys gorzugi



Ornate Box turtle

Terrapene o. ornata



Texas Banded Gecko

Coleonyx brevis


LS(T), TM, P

Reticulate Collared lizard

Crotaphytus reticulatus



? Texas Alligator lizard

Gerrhonotus infernalis



Southern Earless lizard

Holbrookia lacerata subcaudalis


LS(T), P

Texas Horned lizard

Phrynosoma cornutum



? Roundtail Horned lizard

Phrynosoma modestum



? Canyon lizard

Sceloporus merriami



? Crevice Spiny lizard

Sceloporus poinsettii



Blue Spiny lizard

Sceloporus serrifer



Rosebelly lizard

Sceloporus variabilis marmoratus



Trans-Pecos Rat snake

Bogertophis s. subocularis



Mottled Rock Rattlesnake

Crotalus l. lepidus


LS(T), TM, P

Texas Indigo snake

Drymarchon melanurus erebennus



? Grey-Banded Kingsnake

Lampropeltis alterna



Mexican Milk snake

Lampropeltis triangulum annulata



Strecker's Chorus frog

Pseudacris streckeri



Eastern Barking frog

Eleutherodactylus augusti



Cliff Chirping frog

Eleutherodactylus marnockii



? Eastern Tiger salamander

Ambystoma t. tigrinum


R, E, US, P

Texas salamander

Eurycea neotenes


R, E, US, P

? Valdina Farms salamander

Eurycea troglodytes



? Rio Grande Lesser Siren

Siren intermedia texana

Pg. 8: A Photographic Atlas of the Herpetofauna of South-central Texas