Seven species of reptiles were confirmed during a 2002 park inventory, representing most of the expected species of the area. The racer (Coluber constrictor) was the most widely distributed reptile that was found across all the park sites that were sampled. The western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) is also abundant. The western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) can commonly be found among the rocks and in trees found along the Snake River.

The ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus) is a critically imperiled species of concern for the state of Idaho, and the Bureau of Land Management lists it as a sensitive species. Sensitive species are defined as those plant and animal species identified for which population viability is a concern as evidenced by: (a) significant occurrence or predicted downward trends in population numbers or density, and/or (b) significant current or predicted downward trends in habitat capability that would reduce a species' existing distribution. Two juvenile snakes were found at the same location at White Bird Battlefield (Idaho) during the summer of 2002. Dug Bar (Washington) had the highest overall abundance of reptiles throughout the 2002 study.

A garter snake laying on a rock near short grasses.
Garter snakes are not poisonous and are found at most Nez Perce National Historical Park sites.

NPS Photo

The following story about rattlesnake describes a rock formation on the hillside between Lewiston, Idaho and the Spalding Site, along the Clearwater River.

…Rattlesnake and cottontail-they got in an argument about something there. And the cottontail got the best of the argument, so the rattlesnake started to chase the cottontail down the river. Just about after he started chasing him, the rattlesnake hollered down to the other rattlesnake down below the meadow-just about opposite the Hataway Crick. You can see the expression there that the rattlesnake's laying down for the cottontail down there…"

--Alex Pinkham, Nez Perce Tales (at Spalding, ID in August, 1965)

Last updated: October 29, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715


(208) 843-7001

Contact Us