Snakes, Turtles & other Reptiles in Colorado

Rattlesnake, swimming in Pueblo lake. This picture was taken by Alyssa Erickson, from a boat, in June 2007. This is probably a Prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Crotalus


Bull Snake. Also called a Gopher Snake. The scientific name is Pituophis Catenifer. This picture was taken on 20 May 2002, in Elbert county, Colorado.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Pituophis
Species: P. catenifer
Subspecies: P. c. sayi

The fourth picture was taken 20 July 1991, and is taken from a video. This snake was hissing loudly at me. My dogs found it in our back yard, and alerted me. When I heard the hissing, I knew it was a harmless Bull Snake, so I took it out to a field and let it go. It was about 2 feet long.

Click here to see the video.

The fifth and sixth pictures are of a Bull snake found near Brush Hollow, Colorado on 21 May 2010. It was about 3 feet long, and appeared to be well-fed.






This snake was seen on a bridge at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 22 June 2009. This is a Western Terrestrial Gartersnake, identified by Lauren Livo. It was a little over 1 foot long.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptillia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Thamnophis
Species: T. elegans

A Garter snake, seen at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 6 May 2010. It had just left a pond that was covered with small green leaves, and was covered with them while it was on the bank. Enough of the snake's color pattern was still visible, so it is a Garter snake.

A small Garter Snake, found by Alyssa Erickson and friends on a trip near Colorado Springs on 26 September 2011.

Family Emydidae, Box turtles and Pond turtles.

Turtles, at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 20 June 2008. These are probably Western Painted turtles.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Subfamily: Deirochelyinae
Genus: Chrysemys
Species: C. picta


This turtle, about 10 inches long, is a Western Painted turtle. It was at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 14 June 2010. It looks similar to its relative the red-eared pond slider, but without the red patches.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Subfamily: Deirochelyinae
Genus: Chrysemys
Species: C. picta

Another Western Painted turtle. It was at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 31 October 2010.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Subfamily: Deirochelyinae
Genus: Chrysemys
Species: C. picta

This is a Red-eared pond slider, at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 20 June 2008. They are not native to Colorado, but they are here now. These are bought at pet stores, and then either escape or are released.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Subclass: Anapsida
Order: Testudines
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Trachemys
Species: T. scripta
Subspecies: T. s. elegans

Another Red-eared pond slider, at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 4 August 2011.

Family Trionychidae, Soft shelled turtles.

This is a Spiny Softshell Turtle, found at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 26 June 2009. It was about 12 inches long, and since males of this species do not get more than about 9 inches long, this was a female. She quickly moved into the water when I got close. A large female like this one can live up to 50 years.

There are seven sub-species, but it is difficult to tell the difference between them.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Trionychidae
Genus: Apalone
Species: A. spinifera



Family Chelydridae, Snapping turtles.

This is a Common Snapping Turtle, found on May 6, 2010 at the Fountain Creek Nature Center. The second picture shows the saw-tooth edge found on the back of the shell. The shell itself was probably about 14" in length.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Chelydridae
Genus: Chelydra
Species: C. serpentina


This Snapping Turtle dug a hole and was laying eggs in it right beside the hiking trail at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 12 June 2011. Her shell was about 11 to 12" in length.



Family Teiidae, Whiptail lizards.

A Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineatus). This one was missing half of its tail. The picture was taken at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 20 August 2008. The identification is thanks to Lauren Livo.

The second picture is of the same species, and was taken on 10 July 2014, same place as the previous picture.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Aspidoscelis
Species: sexlineatus


Another lizard found at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 13 July 2012. The identificaton of this one was provided by Harry Taylor and Lauren Livo.
They say that this species is a female-only species, which has three sets of chromosomes, and reproduces through the process of parthenogenesis.
This species has four color pattern classes A, B, C, and D, and this one is pattern class A.

The second picture is of the same species, and was taken on 10 July 2014, same place as the previous picture.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Sauria
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Aspidoscelis
Species: neotesselata, Colorado Checkered Whiptail.
This is a new species as of 1997.



Family Phrynosomatidae, Spiney lizards.

Another lizard found at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on 26 July 2010. This one is a Prairie Lizard, (Sceloporus consobrinus).

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Genus: Sceloporus
Species: consobrinus

Another Prairie Lizard, found on 12 July 2014, same place.

This is a Horned Lizard, found in rural Elbert County, Colorado on 2 June 2015.
It was found by my son Wayne Erickson and photographed by my grandaughter Stacey Aughe.
The species has not been determined for sure yet, but it may be the Greater Short-horned lizard, P. hernandesi.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Genus: Phrynosoma

This is a Western Fence Lizard, found at the Fountain Creek Nature Center on June 10, 2016. They are sometimes called Blue-belly lizards, since the abdomen of an adult is usually blue.

The third picture was taken at the same place, on June 29, 2016, and shows the blue on the abdomen. Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Genus: Sceloporus
Species: S. occidentalis



This lizard was found at the Bear Creen Nature Center in Colorado Springs on July 4, 2016. It is a little on the small side, and runs very fast from one shady spot to the next. It is hard to get a good picture of it. Identification is pending, but the markings on the head look similar to those of the Fence Lizard.