Reptiles and Amphibians - Sources of Distribution and Life History Information

Field Guides and Species References

Coachwhip preying on bird eggs in Saguaro National Park.
Coachwhip preying on bird eggs in Saguaro National Park.


Field guides for herpetofauna range from general guides to those specializing in particular geographic areas or taxonomic groups. Here are a few field guides or books with species accounts covering parts or all of the American Southwest:

  • A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 2003. The Peterson Field Guide Series. Third Edition. Text and Illustrations by R. Stebbins. Houghton Mifflin Company.

  • A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. 2006. By T.C. Brennan and A.T. Holycross. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona.

  • Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. 1996. By W. Degenhardt, C. Painter, and A. Price. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Amphibians and Reptiles in Colorado, a Colorado Field Guide. 2000. By G.A. Hammerson. Second Edition. University Press of Colorado.

  • Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas. 2000. By J.R. Dixon. Texas A&M University Press.

  • Lizards of the American Southwest, a photographic field guide. 2009. Edited by L.C. Jones and R.E. Lovich. Rio Nuevo Publishers, Tucson, Arizona.

  • A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert. 2000. Edited by S.J. Phillips and P.W. Comus. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press, Tucson, and University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Pages 533-585, by C. Ivanyi, J. Perry, T.R. Van Devender, and H. Lawler, provide amphibian and reptile species accounts.

Electronic Resources

A sampling of resources available on the internet include:

  • eNature – URL:
    eNature's core content consists of wildlife information about almost 6,000 individual species and is the same data set used to create the printed Audubon Field Guides.
  • PARC Links – URL:
    PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) is a partnership for the conservation of herpetofauna and their habitats. The PARC website page listed above contains numerous links, including those for herpetological journals, research labs, atlases, and regional resources. A few links of particular interest are noted here.
  • AmphibiaWeb ( provides information on the conservation, natural history, and taxonomy of amphibians. Searches can be conducted by state, and photos of species are available for viewing.
  • Southwest PARC ( is a working group focused on implementing the PARC mission in the Southwest.
  • Online Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona – URL:
    Created by T.C. Brennan in 2008, this site contains information on amphibians, snakes, lizards, turtles, and habitat, and it includes species accounts, information on relevant books, and links to organizations.
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – URL:
    The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum site provides more than 30 Amphibian and Reptile Accounts by C. Ivanyi, J. Perry, T.R. Van Devender, and H. Lawler. This is the same information that appears in the book “Natural History of the Sonoran Desert” (2000), listed above.
  • Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso – URL:
    This website contains information on the Chihuahuan Desert and its amphibians and reptiles. Available information includes photographs, distribution data and maps, species lists, and some natural history information.
  • Tucson Herpetological Society – URL:
    Focused on the herpetofauna of Arizona and Mexico, this website contains checklists of species within a 100-mile radius of Tucson and provides internet links to other information sources. The Society publishes a monthly newsletter and informational brochures.


Prepared by Patricia Valentine-Darby, Southern Plains Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, 2010.

Part of a series of articles titled Reptiles and Amphibians of the American Southwest.

Last updated: May 21, 2015