CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Mohave Patch-nosed Snake -
Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis

Bogert, 1945
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Patch-nosed Snakes California Range Map
Range in California: Purple

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Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
  Adult, Inyo County  
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
  Adult, Inyo County  
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
  Adult, Inyo County  
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
Adult, San Bernardino County © Bill Bachman Adult, Inyo County © William Flaxington
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
Adult, San Bernardino County © Patrick Briggs
Juvenile, Kern County © Brad Alexander
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
Adult female, Mono County
© Adam G. Clause
Adult, Inyo County Adult, San Bernardino County
© Zachary Lim
   
Habitat
Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Habitat Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Habitat Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Habitat
Habitat, Inyo County desert Habitat, White/Inyo Mountains,
Inyo County
Habitat, Inyo County desert
Variable Groundsnake Habitat Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Habitat Mohave Glossy Snake Habitat
Habitat, Inyo County desert
Habitat, Inyo County desert
Habitat, Inyo County desert
Variable Groundsnake Habitat sidewinder habitat  
Habitat, San Bernardino County desert
© Bill Bachman
Habitat, Inyo County  
     
Short Video
  Mohave Patch-nosed Snake
  A Mohave Patch-nosed snake in
Inyo County.
 
   
Description

Not Dangerous (Non-poisonous)  -  This snake does not have venom that is dangerous to most humans.

Size
Salvadora hexalepis ranges in size from 10 - 46 inches long (25 - 117 cm).
Most snakes seen will be around 26 - 36 inches (66 - 91 cm).

Appearance
A fast, moderately-sized slender striped snake with smooth scales, large eyes, and a large scale over the tip of the snout.
There are 9 upper labial scales, one usually reaches the eye.
The loreal scale is usually not divided.
Color and Pattern
Well-camouflaged, this snake is pale gray with a broad yellow or tan stripe down the middle of the back, and dark stripes on the sides.
The underside is cream, sometimes shading to pale orange at the tail end.
The dark side stripes are often indistinct and, around the edges of its range, especially in the eastern part, the stripes are obscured by crossbars.
The sides may be dark on all but the lowermost 1 or 2 scale rows.
The top of the head is gray.
The middorsal stripe is usually 3 scales wide.
Similar Subspecies
Comparison of the 3 subspecies of Salvadora hexalepis found in California.

Life History and Behavior
Little is known about the natural history of this species. These notes are based on observations of the species as a whole.
Activity
Diurnal - active during daylight, even in times of extreme heat.
Terrestrial, but also climbs shrubs in pursuit of prey.
Burrows into loose soil.
Able to move very quickly.
Acute vision allows this snake to escape quickly when threatened, making it sometimes difficult to observe or capture during the heat of the day.
Enlarged back teeth might be used to envenomate prey. (Grismer, 2002)

The enlarged rostral scale (on the tip of the nose) is thought to be useful in excavating buried lizard eggs.
It may also be used to dig into underground burrows: A Western Patch-nosed Snake in San Bernardino County was observed in an apparent attempt to catch a small rodent by forcefully ramming its head into the dirt at the base of a Creosote bush which opened a small hole in the ground, and crawling into the hole. A small rodent emerged from a different hole under the bush and ran away. (Herpetological Review 44(2), 2013)
Defense
When cornered, will inflate the body and strike.
Diet and Feeding
Eats mostly lizards, especially whiptails, along with small mammals, and possibly small snakes, nestling birds, reptile eggs, and amphibians.
Breeding
Lays 4-12 eggs, probably between May and August. (Stebbins, 2003)

Habitat
Inhabits open arid and semi-arid areas - deserts, brushland, grassland, scrub, sagebrush, in canyons, rocky hillsides, sandy plains.

Geographical Range
The species Salvadora hexalepis - Western Patch-nosed Snake, is found in southern California, Nevada, extreme southwestern Utah, Arizona, southeastern New Mexico, west Texas, and south into western Mexico, including Baja California.


This subspecies, Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis - Mohave Patch-nosed Snake, occurs in California from roughly Riverside County, west along the desert side of the mountains, north east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into Nevada and northeast California in Lassen County, and east into extreme southeast Utah and Arizona.

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Salvadora hexalepis occurs at elevations from below sea level to around 7,000 ft. (2,130 m.) (Stebbins, 2003)

Taxonomic Notes
'The spelling of the word "Mojave" or "Mohave" has been a subject of debate. Lowe in the preface to his "Venomous Reptiles of Arizona" (1986) argued for "Mohave" as did Campbell and Lamar (2004, "The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere"). According to linguistics experts on Native American languages, either spelling is correct, but using either the "j" or "h" is based on whether the word is used in a Spanish or English context. Given that this is an English names list, we use the "h" spelling (P. Munro, Linguistics, UCLA, pers. comm.).'

(Taxon Notes to Crotalus scutulatus, SSAR Herpetological Circular no 39, published August 2012, John J. Moriarty, Editor.)


There are five subspecies of Salvadora hexalepis, with three occurring in California:

S. h. hexalepis
- Desert Patch-nosed Snake,
S. h. mojavensis - Mohave Patch-nosed Snake,
S. h. virgultea
- Coast Patch-nosed Snake
,
S. h. klauberi - Baja California Patch-nosed Snake, and
S. h. deserticola
- Big Bend Patch-nosed Snake,
which occurs in the Southwest, is recognized by some taxonomists as a unique species, Salvadora deserticola.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Colubridae Colubrids Oppel, 1811
Genus Salvadora Patch-nosed Snakes Baird and Girard, 1853
Species hexalepis Western Patch-nosed Snake (Cope, 1866)
Subspecies

mojavensis Mohave Patch-nosed Snake Bogert, 1945
Original Description
Salvadora hexalepis - (Cope, "1866" 1867) - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 18, p. 304
Salvadora hexalepis mohavensis - Bogert, 1945 - Amer. Mus.

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Salvadora - Latin - salvus - whole, sound, well preserved and dura - hide or skin -- "body covered w/smooth scales"
hexalepis
- Greek - hex - six and lepisma - scale - refers to the 6th supralabial reaching the eye in the holotype
mojavensis - Latin - belonging to the Mohave Desert - referring to habitat

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

Alternate Names
None

Related or Similar California Snakes
S. h. hexalepis - Desert Patch-nosed Snake
S. h. virgultea - Coast Patch-nosed Snake
C. f. piceus - Red Racer

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, 1957.

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the April 2018 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List, both of which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


This snake is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.

Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G5 The species is: Secure—Common; widespread and abundant.
NatureServe State Ranking
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
IUCN

 

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