Amphibians, Reptiles, & Fish

Dark brown king snake with light stripes coiled on the ground

California kingsnake (Lampropelis getulus) is found at low elevations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

NPS Photo

Amphibians, reptiles, and fish are found at all elevations within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and certain species may be found at all times of the year. Their occurrence ranges from common (e.g. western fence lizards) to extirpated (locally extinct) (e.g. foothill yellow-legged frogs). The parks also have numerous species of exotics such as the bullfrog and many species of fish, which were brought into naturally fishless lakes to make the area more attractive to anglers.

The introduction of fish has had many unintended effects - the most dramatic being the resulting decline in the mountain yellow-legged frog populations (federally listed as endangered) due to predation. Scientists have investigated the role of other causative factors in their decline, such as acid deposition, UV-B radiation, and disease, but predation is clearly the main problem. When fish are present, they eat frogs, force frogs into marginal habitat, and fragment the population, the latter of which hinders recolonization. Wildlife management staff currently remove exotic fish from some naturally fishless lakes to help restore the native frog population.
California newt

The California newt (Taricha torosa) is a colorful amphibian that occurs up to 6500 feet in elevation in the Sierra Nevada.

NPS Photo

In order to monitor the density, distribution, and species composition of native and exotic fish, counts are regularly conducted along set transects. Transects of western pond turtles in low elevation rivers and streams are another important monitoring project. These turtles are impacted negatively by non-native bullfrogs that eat the young.

Many species of amphibians are of limited distribution and thus vulnerable to human disturbance. One group of salamanders that we are especially concerned about are the slender salamanders, in the Genus Batrachoseps. SEKI began an inventory of this genus in 2000, as part of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program. Rare reptiles and other priority species are being inventoried under this program.

Did You Know?