Geographic Range

The Sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis) is a north American types generally uncovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range from southerly California to southerly British Columbia and also along the Pacific coast of California. In California, this types can be discovered in and also along the mountains from Eureka to central San luis Obispo, and along western slope the the Sierras in the foothills and at center to low elevations (max altitude 2130 m (7000 ft.) (Leviton 1971; Morey 1989).

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Biogeographic areas nearctic


Sharp-tailed Snakes happen in a selection of habitats, however, they space most generally found in moist atmospheres with an abundance of surface debris, such as twigs, roots, and leaves. The Sharp-tailed snake is discovered in areas with surface moisture and also it becomes energetic during the cool fall and also winter temperatures. Since of their choice for cooler temperature and greater moisture levels, C. Tenuis is energetic at different times and in different microhabitats than most snakes. However, its selection overlaps that of the Ring-neck Snake(Diadophis punctatus), and also they have the right to be discovered under the exact same cover in ~ times. The Sharp-tailed Snake deserve to be discovered mainly in wooded locations or close to intermittent streams (Leviton 1971; Morey 1989; Basey 1976).

Terrestrial Biomes

Physical Description

At maximum, the Sharp-tailed snake may prosper to a size of 19 inch (47.5cm), yet most adult are around 12 inch (30cm) long. Shiny reddish-brown or gray scales over and a whitish line down the side characterize C. Tenuis. An alternate pattern the black, pale greenish, gray, or cream bars have the right to be found on its belly, and also its smooth scales come in 15 rows about the body. The most distinguishing characteristic that this snake is the sharp spine-like range at the reminder of that tail. Back the duty of this scale is not fully understood, the is believed to be used as an anchor during struggles v its victims (Basey 1976; Leviton 1971).


Habitat requirements for reproduction room unknown. Mating

of the Sharp-tailed snake occurs in spring and in the

summer it lays 3-8 eggs. Over there is proof that indicates that on occasion, eggs are laid in communal nest sites. Hatching wake up in the fall, and the egg clutches can be uncovered in 7 come 15cm (2.8 to 6 in.) of soil, among grass roots and deep in rock outcrops (Morey 1989; Basey 1976; Nussbaum et al. 1983).


The Sharp-tailed snake is a small, secretive, diurnal species, i beg your pardon moves about during the merganser season, indigenous October v April. Even during its most energetic periods, C. Tenuis often tends to hide underneath rocks or any type of other cover it may uncover such as, logs, bark, twigs, or any kind of cover in or approximately wooded areas. During the finish of spring and also through the summer months, they take refuge in burrows, and remain there till the moistened ground, from early on rains, attractive them to the surface. Over there is no evidence of territoriality and individuals often accumulation at favorable sites. Number of individuals deserve to be discovered under a solitary small, flat rock. Predators encompass Steller"s Jays and also other diurnal birds, little mammals, and other snakes. A Brook trout has been seen capturing a Sharp-tailed Snake, which appears to it is in the only recorded record that a fish eating a line (Mattison 1995; Leviton 1971; Morey 1989; Basey 1976).

Food Habits

Slugs are the primary food that the Sharp-tailed Snake.

Although there space no monitorings of C. Tenuis preying on

any various other species, it is said that snails and small

plethodontid salamanders may additionally be taken. The Sharp-tailed Snake may use the spine top top its tail to brace itself while recording its prey. Long, needle-like this on that mandibles are detailed as one adaptation come gripping and also eating slugs (Mattison 1995; Stebbins 1954; Greene 1997).

Economic importance for Humans: Positive

C. Tenuis has actually no significant economic importance, but may be adapting come live approximately rural and suburban gardens, whereby they feeding on numerous non-native slug varieties (Morey 1989).

Economic importance for Humans: Negative


Conservation Status


Jared driver (author), Fresno City College, Carl Johansson (editor), Fresno City College.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern component of the new World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and every one of the phibìc American as much south together the highlands of main Mexico.



Found in coastal areas in between 30 and also 40 levels latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by was standing of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by routine fire. In south America it has the scrub ecotone between forest and also paramo.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise woodland biomes deserve to vary extensively in quantity of precipitation and seasonality.


This terrestrial biome consists of summits the high mountains, either without vegetation or extended by low, tundra-like vegetation.

tropic savanna and also grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas space grasslands with scattered individual trees that execute not type a closed canopy. Substantial savannas are uncovered in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered tree or scattered clumps that trees, a form of neighborhood intermediate between grassland and also forest. See also Tropical savanna and also grassland biome.

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temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome discovered in warm latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly that grasses, the height and types diversity of which depend greatly on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are crucial in the long-term maintenance the grasslands.


Basey, H. 1976. Discovering Sierra Reptiles and also Amphibians. California: Yosemite Natural history Association.

Greene, H. 1997. Snakes: The advancement of an enig in Nature. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: university of California Press.

Leviton, A. 1971. Reptiles and also Amphibians of north America. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc..

Mattison, C. 1995. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. Brand-new York: facts on File, Inc..

Morey, S. "California Wildlife Habitat relationships System: R049, Sharp-tailed Snake, Contia tenuis" (On-line). Accessed 5 April 2001 in ~

Nussbaum, R., E. Brodie, R. Storm. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University push of Idaho.

Stebbins, R. 1954. Amphibians and Reptiles the Western phibìc America. Brand-new York: McGraw-Hill.

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