A rattlesnake coiled in basalt rock
Western rattlesnake

Photo by D. Riggs

Lava Beds National Monument is home to 12 species of reptiles. Eight of these are snakes, including the Western rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes may be seen on the surface or under a rock outcrop. They may be found near a cave entrance but seldom go inside. If you are lucky enough to see one, please do not disturb it. If it is on a trail, in a campsite or any other location where the public is present, please contact a ranger so it can be removed to a safer location.

Rattlesnakes are poisonous, but no one has reported being bitten by one at Lava Beds since the area became a monument in 1925. In order to avoid rattlesnakes, use caution when you are hiking, always looking first before you place your hands and feet.
A gray-green snake emerges from a rock and curves downward
Rubber boa

Photo by R. Paylor

Reptiles have been around for 300 million years. They are air-breathing animals, but can live both in land and survive in water. The majority of reptiles lay eggs to give birth. The most noticible feature of reptiles are scales. Reptiles are often called cold-blooded because they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Their temperature depends upon the outside temperature. You will see them laying in the sun to warm themselves or laying on warm rocks or even pavement. You can also see some reptiles in water to cool themselves.

Snakes can be found in nearly every habitat throughout Lava Beds. The Rocky Mountain Boa is one snake seen in the park. Unlike most sun-loving reptiles, it prefers cool locations and is often seen at the entrances of caves.
A gray and brown patterned lizard consuming a grasshopper, with greenery in the background
A western fence lizard consumes a grasshopper

Photo by N. Charlton

There are also four lizards species within the park. The northern sagebrush llizard and western fence lizard with its blue belly are commonly viewed on warm summer days. One of the most striking lizards within the monument is the western skink, with the juveniles possessing a bright blue tail

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Last updated: December 14, 2023

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P.O. Box 1240
Tulelake, CA 96134


530 667-8113

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