NPS Photo

Mating Bullsnakes

NPS photo Dave Hays

A variety of reptiles call El Morro home. It is common to see lizards scurrying around the Visitor Center and on monument trails. The most common lizard species you will observe are the New Mexico whiptail (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus) with many pale yellow stripes down its back (young have a blue tail) and the sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus), which is typically gray or brown with a pattern of lighter triangular blotches or speckles along its top and sides.

Snakes, including the docile bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi) and the poisonous western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) are found throughout El Morro. Visitors should remember to stay on trails at all times and be aware that rattlesnakes are often encountered during warm months. Please respect snakes when you encounter them - this is their home and they play an important role in our ecosystem, keeping rodent populations in check. If a rattlesnake is blocking a path, please do not try to step over it or harass it! Wait for it to leave the area, or turn around and go let a park ranger know; they have the training and equipment to gently encourage a snake to move off a trail, or relocate it away from a campsite.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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