Calling All Lizard Lovers: We Need Your Lizard Pictures!

June 7, 2017

We are one week into #RASCalsBlitz 2017, and what a week it was. What is RASCalsBlitz 2017? It is a two-month long reptile and amphibian nature count and photo contest in support of our Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California (RASCals) citizen science project.

Male Western Fence Lizard (sometimes called "bluebelly") showing off brightly colored abdominal patches to announce territory ownership and attract females. photo: Eric Cleveland

It is easy to participate. All you need to do is take a digital photo of any reptile or amphibian in Southern California between June 1 and July 31, 2017, and send it to the RASCals project. There are four easy ways to do this (email, text, tagging #RascalsBlitz on social media, or posting directly to iNaturalist). To learn more about the contest categories and the different ways to submit observations visit our RASCalsBlitz 2017 page.

You don't have to be a pro to enter this contest. We are looking for photos of unusual animals and behaviors, as well as beautiful shots. Each observation is a data point representing the sighting of an animal at a specific place and time, that will help scientists, including me, Greg Pauly, to study the biodiversity here in Southern California.

Winners in each contest category will receive four general admission tickets to the Natural History Museum. One Grand Prize Winner will receive an annual family membership and a free lunch and behind-the-scenes tour of the Herpetology Research Collection with me, NHMLA's Curator of Herpetology. I promise, you will have an amazing time!

RASCalsBlitz 2017's goal is to receive 2,000 observations and have at least 250 people participate. During the same time period last year, the RASCals project received 1,224 observations so we need your help to dramatically increase the number of observations during this period.

The contest has already received a number of exciting submissions. In the first week, we received 272 observations from 95 people. And some of these are sure to be contenders in the prize categories.

Kim Moore had the incredible luck to observe two kestrels harassing a red-tailed hawk that was flying off with the remains of a gopher snake, sure to be a strong contender in our “Best Action/Behavior” category. http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6510294 
Another “Best Action/Behavior” contender is this photo by Shahan Derkarabetian of a nesting red-eared slider turtle on the San Diego State University campus. These turtles are not native to the western United States, but they are common in the pet trade and often illegally abandoned in urban ponds. http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6468193
RASCals regular Chris DeGroof took this photo in the San Gabriel Mountains of a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake climbing through the root ball of a tree before settling in for some glamour shots.  http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6515936

Keep the observations coming! And stay tuned for more highlights from RASCalsBlitz 2017 as well as the announcement of our winners in August.

(Posted by: Greg Pauly)

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