Herping The Trans-Pecos

A labor of love by John Hollister

A pictorial tour of the Trans-Pecos and other areas of West Texas, featuring pictures of a variety of animals and scenery.  Most recent update: August 22, 2009.
Enjoy the tour.
These pages have been written to acquaint you with the environs and the variety of animals which may be found while herping the Trans-Pecos and other areas of West Texas. They are based on over 25 pleasant years of herping the area.

In 1972 I crossed the Pecos River for the first time. I knew not where I was going, where to look or what to look for. At this time I was unacquainted with the vast variety of herp life in West Texas. Purely by luck I stumbled into the right area.

These pages are intended to share with you some of the animals and localities of the area which I have been fortunate to encounter. It will be a work in progress. There will be pictures of the snakes, amphibians, insects and other animals which one might encounter while hunting the area. There will also be pictures of the environs and towns of the area.

Aside from 1979 and 1981 when I was working outside the area, I have been out there each year since 1972.. I have driven over 400,000 miles in the area and have trashed out a lot of cars. I have fallen from rock cuts and have had rock cuts fall on me. I have met some fine people and found some good snakes.

Trans-Pecos actually means "across the Pecos", referring to the Pecos River. However, for the scope of these pages the range is extended.

The area covered will be from eastern Val Verde County (Del Rio) west to Van Horn. To the north will be the Davis Mountains through to the Guadalupe Mountains and to the south the Big Bend region. It is an area which most people either love or hate immediately. Flying over it, much of it looks green. However, from close up one realizes that there may be inches between the clumps of grass and that much of the green is tough little bushes and cacti. Some years the floods are horrifying, some years there is little water to be found. To most who see it, the area seems to have limited animal life. Deer, buzzards and jackrabbits are sufficiently common to the point of being road hazards. Insects abound. But, to see most of the animals, you have to look at night and look closely. Even the herpers hole up during the heat of the afternoon.

It would seem that, in recent years, the people coming to look for reptiles in the area are interested only in finding gray banded kingsnakes. Some go so far as to hunt only one small area year after year. I like L. alterna, and have spent a lot of time looking for them, but I have always been willing to try new areas, study other animals and to take time out to smell the roses (or, in this area, the wildflowers.) I hope that these pages will help to show that there are a wide variety of places to go and things to see in the Trans-Pecos.

All of the pictures but a couple are ones I have taken of animals I have found and places I have been. Some are scanned from photographs, but most are scanned from slides. The older ones were taken with a Canon AE-1. The more recent ones were taken with a Nikon 8008S with an SB-26 flash. I am now using a Nikon N90S. Most of the animals were photographed with a 90mm macro lens.

If you haven't been to this area, you should go. I hope that you enjoy this tour as much as I have.

John O. Hollister

1997-2009 John O. Hollister
All photographs and text are my property and may not be used without my permission.

I have written over 150 pages and have scanned in over 250 photos for this work. Please, if you find any typos, misspellings or mislabellings, let me know. This is a work in progress, and will be added to as new photos are taken and new species are found.

My Collection Pages
Reptiles of Australia
Rattlesnake Roundup