Soquel Demonstration State Forest Herp Servey

The Soquel Demonstration State Forest is situated in the Santa Cruz mountains along California’s central Coast. Originally part of a Spanish Land Grant, the property was logged by several different owners prior to the State taking ownership in 1988. Today the Forest is managed as a working example of sustainable timber operations, outdoor research site, and recreation area. This 2,681 acre forest contains redwood, mixed hardwoods, and riparian ecosystems. Elevations range from 450’ to 2,400’ with an average annual precipitation of 44” and temperatures ranging from 32 – 90 degrees.
Soquel is unique as it is the only State Forest located near large urban areas. It’s proximity to the metropolitan centers of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area provide opportunities for education, recreation, and research while demonstrating a “working forest’ to the public.
As previously mentioned the area is open to research and the forest managers encourage ongoing research of many varieties. When I first came to the forest managers with the idea of starting a Herpetological survey they were very interested. Detailed bird, fish, and plant surveys had been done over the years, but information on what reptiles and amphibians actually existed there was lacking. Most of the information available on what species were present was either theoretical or based upon chance encounters.
Once the idea was formalized the board of directors from the North American Field Herp Association, (NAFHA) were contacted and quickly sanctioned the event. In December of 2010 we held the first Herp Survey which was attended by 11 NAFHA members. As of this update (7/2016) we have conducted a total of 14 surveys and have recorded data on over 1000 individual reptiles and amphibians.
The objectives of this ongoing survey are:
  • Conduct an inventory assessment of the reptiles and amphibians found within the forest boundaries which can be used by resource managers to monitor the impact of current forest activities on all herpetofauna.
  • Photo voucher all species found and morphological variants.
  • Add both quantitative and qualitative data to the NAFHA Database.
Patternless San Francisco Alligator Lizard
To date (July 2016) the species found include:
Rubber Boa- Charina bottae
Pacific Ring-neck snake- Diadophis punctatus amabilis
Forest Sharp-tailed snake- Contia longicaudae
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake- Crotalus o. oreganus
Santa Cruz Gartersnake- Thamnophis a. atratus
Coast Gartersnake- Thamnophis elegans terrestris
California Mountain Kingsnake- Lampropeltis zonata
Pacific Gophersnake- Pituophis c. catenifer
Coast Range Fence Lizard- Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii
San Francisco Alligator Lizard- Elgaria coerulea coerulea
Skilton's Skink- Plestiodon s. skiltonianus
Red-eared Slider- Trachemys scripta elegans. (Non-native species)
Sierran Tree frog- Pseudacrris sierra
Foothill Yellow-legged Frog- Rana Boylii
California Red-legged Frog- Rana draytonii
Coast Range Newt- Taricha  torosa
Rough-Skinned Newt- Taricha granulosa
Yellow-eyed Ensatina- Ensatina eschscholtzii xanthoptica
California Slender Salamander- Batrachoseps attenuatus
California Giant Salamander- Dicamptodon ensatus
Arboreal Salamander- Aneides lugubris
Santa Cruz Black Salamander- Aneides flavipunctatus niger
As the survey continues I’m more than certain this list will greatly expand.
California Giant Salamander
If you would like further details on this survey, please feel free to e-mail me (Lawrence Erickson) at
Article and photos by Lawrence Erickson.