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Western Patchnose Snake
(Salvadora hexalepis)

Order: Squamata
Family: Colubridae (colubrid snakes)
Spanish names: culebra

Distinguishing Features

This slender, docile snake reaches 1¼ to 3¼ feet (107 cm) in length. Most noticeable is the large, patch-like rostral scale on the end of the nose. A wide yellow or beige stripe with a dark border runs down the center of the back; one dark stripe runs down each side. Occasionally the stripes are broken or obscured by crossbars. The belly is pale, sometimes faintly orange. Males have keeled scales at the base of the tail and above the anal opening.

Range

This snake is found in the southwestern United States, northwestern Mexico, and Baja California. It is also found on Isla Tiburón and Isla San José in the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat

The patchnose snake is found in sandy soils or rocky areas in lowland desert with open creosote bush flats or desertscrub. It is also found in grasslands to the lower slopes of mountains with chaparral, and in pinyon-juniper woodlands as high as 7000 feet (2100 m).

Life History

Active in the daytime year round in warmer climates, this snake is crepuscular in the heat of the summer. In milder climates it may be active from early April to early November. The enlarged rostral scale is useful for burrowing in both loose sandy areas or rocky areas in search of its food: lizards, grasshoppers, small mammals, and reptile eggs. While the western patchnose snake does not constrict its prey, it does throw loops of its body on top of the prey to subdue it. It locates reptile eggs by scent, using its nose to unearth them. Much like the whipsnake, it moves quickly on the ground, and may climb into the lower branches of vegetation. If picked up it will thrash wildly. During the summer, it lays 4 to 10 eggs. Eleven inch long hatchlings emerge in late summer.

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