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California Glossy Snake - Arizona elegans occidentalis

Blanchard, 1924
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glossy snakes range map Range in California: Orange

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California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Alameda County  
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
  Adult, Alameda County Juvenile, San Joaquin County
© Sam Murray
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Alameda County. © Gary Nafis.  Specimen Courtesy of Josh Shatsky
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Alameda County. © Gary Nafis. Specimen courtesy of John Worden.
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Alameda County. © Gary Nafis  Specimen Courtesy of Josh Shatsky Juvenile, Fresno County
© Bobby MacGregor
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Fresno County © Patrick Briggs Adult, coastal San Diego County
© Jason Jones
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, San Joaquin County
© Sam Murray
Adult, San Joaquin County
© Sam Murray
Adult, San Joaquin County
© Sam Murray
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake  
Adult, Orange County © Steve Bledsoe  
   

Snakes from areas near where two subspecies come into contact.
(Intergrades, or subspecies unknown)

California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, from an area of integradation in San Diego County
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Adult, Anza, aprox. 3,900 ft,
Riverside County © Curtis Croulet
Juvenile, Anza, aprox. 3,900 ft,
Riverside County © Curtis Croulet
Juvenile, Anza, aprox. 3,900 ft,
Riverside County © Curtis Croulet
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake
Striped Adult intergrade wth A. e. eburnata - Desert Glossy Snake, San Diego County © Stuart Young

Striped Adult intergrade wth A. e. eburnata - Desert Glossy Snake, San Diego County © Ross Padilla Sub-adult from an area of integradation in San Diego County
Habitat
California Glossy Snake Habitat California Glossy Snake Habitat California Glossy Snake Habitat
Habitat, Alameda County foothills

Habitat, Alameda County foothills Habitat, San Diego County
Short Video
  California Glossy Snake  
  A California Glossy Snake crawls on a road at night, crossing paths with a potato bug.  
Description
Not Dangerous to Humans
Size
Adults 26-70 in. (66-178 cm) Average length is 3 - 4 feet.
Appearance
Smooth, glossy scales with a faded or bleached-out appearance, but generally darker than other California Glossy snake subspecies - a tan or light brown ground color with dark brown blotches with dark edges on the back and sides and a pale, unmarked underside. An average of 63 narrow blotches on body.
Similar Snakes
Comparison of the 3 subspecies of Arizona elegans in California, along with sympatric species similar in appearance - Pituophis catenifer - Gopher Snake, Trimorphodon biscutatus - Lyre Snake, Hypsiglena - Night Snakes, Coluber constrictor mormon - Western Yellow-Bellied Racer (juvenile).
Behavior
Nocturnal. Burrows, hiding underground in daytime.
Diet
Preys mostly on sleeping diurnal lizards, but also eats small snakes, terrestrial birds, and mammals. Kills prey by direct swallowing or constriction.
Reproduction
Lays eggs in June and July, which most likely hatch in late summer and early fall.
Range
This subspecies, Arizona elegans occidentalis - California Glossy Snake, occurs from the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area south to northwestern Baja California. Absent along the central coast. There are also old reports of this snake from the Santa Monica Mountains.

The species Arizona elegans - Western Glossy Snake, has a very wide range, occuring through most of the southwest, and the southeastern part of the Midwest, most of Baja California, and far south into Mexico.
Habitat
Inhabits arid scrub, rocky washes, grasslands, chaparral.
Taxonomic Notes
It has been proposed that Arizona elegans be split into two distinct species, possibly due to tail length differences between the eastern and western groups. The western glossy snakes would become Arizona occidentalis with the eastern remaining Arizona elegans.
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Protected from take with a sport fishing license in 2013 by a special closure:
No glossy snakes (Arizona elegans) may be taken in the following counties:  Alameda, Fresno, Imperial (west of Hwy 111), Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside (southwest of Hwy 111 and I-10), San Benito, San Bernardino (West of I-215 and Hwy 138), San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Tulare.

Taxonomy
Family Colubridae Colubrids Oppel, 1811
Genus Arizona Glossy Snakes Kennicott, 1859
Species elegans Western Glossy Snake Kennicott, 1859
Subspecies


occidentalis California Glossy Snake Blanchard, 1924
Original description
Arizona elegans - Kennicott, 1859 - in Baird, U.S. Mex.
Arizona elegans occidentalis - Blanchard, 1924 - Occ. Papers Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan, No. 150, p. 1

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Arizona - 1.) Latin - areo - to be dry and zona - belt of earth - refers to the geographical distribution
                2.) arizonac - place of springs - American Indian word, refers to the Arizona region
elegans
- Latin - fine or elegant- refers to the color pattern
occidentalis - Latin - western - refers to its western distribution in the U.S.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Arizona occidentalis occidentalis

Related or Similar Neighboring California Snakes
A. e. candida - Mohave Glossy Snake
A. e. eburnata - Desert Glossy Snake
P. c. catenifer - Pacific Gophersnake
P. c. annectens - San Diego Gophersnake

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Bartlett, R. D. & Alan Tennant. Snakes of North America - Western Region. Gulf Publishing Co., 2000.

Brown, Philip R. A Field Guide to Snakes of California. Gulf Publishing Co., 1997.

Ernst, Carl H., Evelyn M. Ernst, & Robert M. Corker. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, 2003.

Wright, Albert Hazen & Anna Allen Wright. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press.




Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


Protected from take with a sport fishing license in 2013 by a special closure:
No glossy snakes (Arizona elegans) may be taken in the following counties:  Alameda, Fresno, Imperial (west of Hwy 111), Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside (southwest of Hwy 111 and I-10), San Benito, San Bernardino (West of I-215 and Hwy 138), San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Tulare.
Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None

 

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