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Desert Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans eburnata)
Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
Snakes Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
Dorsal patches with dark outline and "faded" center

General Description: Glossy Snakes (Arizona elegans) are medium-sized snakes with smooth, glossy scales and dark patches down the back that have dark outlines and light (faded) centers. These snakes are fairly common, but seldom seen, because they tend to stay underground during the day.

Glossy Snakes resemble Gopher Snakes, but the scales on Gopher Snakes are rough, and the center of the blotches are dark.

Taxonomy: Colubrid Snakes Family (Colubridae).

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)

Technical Description: Length 20 to 36 inches. Dorsum light cream to tan with small blotches (tan or gray with dark edges) down the center of the back and smaller spots on the sides. Colors look faded. Ventral surface is white or buff; unmarked (ventral scales sometimes have dark marks on the lateral edges). Head narrow. Scales smooth and glossy. A black line from the back of the eye to the corner of the mouth. Lower jaw countersunk. Anal scale single. Pupils slightly vertical during daylight hours (open and round in the dark).

In the Desert Glossy Snake subspecies (Arizona elegans eburnata), the dorsal blotches small and narrow, narrower than the spaces between them. Identify by geography or count scales.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
Note the countersunk lower jaw (arrow).

In the Mojave Glossy Snake subspecies (Arizona elegans candida), the dorsal blotches small and narrow (but wider than those of the Desert Glossy subspecies), narrower than the spaces between them. Identify by geography or count scales.

In the Arizona Glossy Snake subspecies (Arizona elegans noctivaga), the dorsal blotches slightly wider or equal to the spaces between them. No marks on ventral scales. Overall darker than the Desert and Mojave subspecies. Identify by geography or count scales.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
Plain white belly.

Diet: Lizards, also small mammals and birds. Kills by constriction.

Habitat: Creosote-Bursage Flats, Mojave Desert Scrub, and salt desert scrub habitats with open sandy surfaces, scattered brush, and rocky areas; extending into grasslands and Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands up to about 7,000 ft in elevation. Prefers open areas.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
Glossy snake in Mojave Desert Scrub habitat at night.

Range: Southwestern U.S. from southern California to west Texas, and from southwest Nebraska south into central Mexico. The Desert Glossy subspecies occurs in southern Nevada and southeastern California, with minor intrusions into southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona. The Mojave Glossy subspecies occurs in the southern California in the northern Mojave Deserts with a minor intrusion into western Nevada. The Arizona Glossy subspecies occurs in western and central Arizona south into Mexico.

Breeding: Clutch of 3-23 eggs laid during summer.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)

Similar Species: Glossy Snakes resemble slender, faded Gopher Snakes, but the scales on Gopher Snakes are keeled (i.e., not smooth and glossy).

Comments: Also known as the "Faded Snake" due to its faded appearance. Primarily nocturnal.

Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans) Glossy Snake.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 090723

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