Long-nosed snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)

The long-nosed snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei, is a species of nonvenomous colubrid snake, which is endemic to North America. It is the only species in the genus Rhinocheilus, but has four recognized subspecies, though more modern research has cast some doubt on that classification.

Etymology

The specific name, lecontei, commemorates American entomologist John Lawrence Le Conte (1825-1883).

Description

Long-nosed snakes are distinguished by a long, slightly upturned snout, which is the origin of their common name. They are tricolor, vaguely resembling a coral snake with black and red saddling that almost looks like banding, on a yellow or cream-colored background, which can look somewhat like yellow banding. Cream-colored spots within the black saddles are a distinct characteristic of the long-nosed snake. They differ from all other harmless snakes in the United States by having undivided subcaudal scales. They average around 30 inches (76 cm) in total length.

Behavior

Long-nosed snakes are shy, nocturnal burrowing snakes. They spend most of their time buried underground.

Diet

Long-nosed snakes feed on lizards, amphibians, and sometimes smaller snakes and infrequently rodents.

Reproduction

Long-nosed snakes are oviparous, laying clutches of 4-9 eggs in the early summer, which hatch out in the late summer or early fall.

Defense

Long-nosed snakes are not apt to bite, but will release a foul smelling musk and blood from their cloaca as a defense mechanism if harassed.

Habitat

Long-nosed Snakes inhabit dry, often rocky, grassland areas.

Geographic range

They are found in northern Mexico from San Luis Potosí to Chihuahua, and into the southwestern United States, in California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Photograph is available under a Creative Commons License from Natalie McNear.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.