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Don Becker
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HerpWiki Markup

Post by Don Becker » August 11th, 2010, 2:08 pm

I will explain this more later, but for the curious at heart here is the wikitext for Steve's write up.

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= Description =
'''Non-Venomous''' - considered harmless to humans.

Adults 20-46 inches (51-117 cm)((Write, Albert Hanzen & Anna Allen Wright.  ''Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada''. Cornell University Press. 1957|Wright 1957)) average total length. A moderately slender snake with smooth shiny scales in 27 rows at mid body and the anal plate is not divided. The snout is slightly elongated, and the lower jaw is inset. The pupil of the eye is round but becomes slightly vertical when it is contracted. This subspecies has two preocular scales.

The basic coloration and pattern is composed of an average of 63 dark brown body blotches with darker blackish colored borders over a light brown, gray brown, olive brown or tan ground color. The total number of blotches can vary from 51 to 75. There are dark brown markings present on the lower labial scales and the outer edges of the ventral scutes. The venter itself is usually a uniform cream or white in color. There is a dark mask-like line that bridges the top of the head from eye to eye and runs from the eye to the angle of the jaw on each side of the head. In many individuals, the lateral scales may contain a spot of darker pigment that is not present in the dorsal scales. This difference in scale coloration can cause the appearance of the presence of a vaguely defined dorsal stripe beneath the dorsal blotches.

In areas where the range of the %%name%% (''%%taxon%%'') overlaps with that of the Mojave Glossy Snake ([[taxon:Arizona elegans candida]]), and the Desert Glossy Snake ([[taxon:Arizona elegans eburnata]]), distinction between the subspecies can be a bit difficult, especially in areas where two of the subspecies frequently mate with one another and produce intermediate forms.

Basically, ''%%subspecies%%'' differs from ''candida'' and ''eburnata'' in that ''%%subspecies%%'' is generally darker in color with lower spots along the sides, and has larger blotches than both ''candida'' and ''eburnata''. It also differs from ''eburnata'' in that it has two preocular scales compared to one in ''eburnata''.

= Other Common Names =
Coastal Glossy Snake, Faded Snake (Van Denburgh, 1897), Western Faded Snake (Klauber, 1928)

= Habitat =
Found at elevations from sea level to 6,000 ft((Lemm, Jeffrey M. ''Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region'', California Natural history Guide No. 89, University of California Press, 2006|Lemm 2006)). May be found in a variety of habitats including, barren desert, creosote flats, sagebrush flats, coastal sage, chaparral, grasslands, and pinion-juniper, oak or pine woodlands. Generally prefers open areas with soft or loamy soil. 

= Natural History =
Little is known about the habits of this subspecies. The %%name%% is a very secretive nocturnal animal that is almost never seen active in the daytime. They are excellent burrowers and spend the daylight hours in burrows, under rocks, under artificial cover or buried in soft soil.

Emergence from winter hibernation has been recorded to be as early as late February((Wright 1957)) with peak nocturnal activity occurring in May and June. Later in the season during the months of September and October, hatchlings are more frequently found than adults. %%name%%s are usually very docile when handled and seldom attempt to bite when captured.

= Reproduction =
Oviparous. Adult females may deposit a clutch of 5-23 eggs, with clutches of 5-12 eggs being most common((Stebbins, Robert C. ''A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians''. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003|Stebens 2003)). Eggs measuring .63" to .70" by 2.2" to 2.5" long (1.6 to 1.8 cm by 5.7 to 6.3 cm long) are deposited June-July. Eggs hatch in 60 to 72 days and hatchlings measure 8 to 11 inches total length((Lemm 2006)). 

= Diet =
A constrictor. Lizards are preferred prey. Snakes, small rodents and birds are also consumed. 

= Range =
Historical occurrence in California is from the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, south through the Central Valley to the Tehachapi Mountains, it is absent along the central coast. Coastal from Los Angeles County to northwestern Baja California, Mexico. There are early reports of this snake from many areas of coastal Southern California including the Santa Monica Mountains((Nafis, Gary, ''California Herps.com'', [[http://www.californiaherps.com/index.html]]|Nafis)) but it is currently rarely encountered in much of its historical coastal range.

= Meaning of Scientific Name =
;''Arizona'': Areo (Latin) to be dry + Zona (Latin) belt of earth, zone Alternate meaning; Arizonac (American Indian) place of springs, ref. Arizona region. ((Beltz, Ellin. ''Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained'', [[http://ebeltz.net/herps/etymain.html]], 2006|Beltz 2006))
;''elegans'': (Latin) fine or elegant. ((Beltz 2006))
;''occidentalis'':  (Latin) western — ref. western distribution in the U.S. ((Beltz 2006))

= Similar Species =
* Mojave Glossy Snake, ''[[taxon:Arizona elegans candida]]''
* Desert Glossy Snake, ''[[Arizona elegans eburnata]]''
* Pacific Gopher Snake, ''[[Pituophis catenifer catenifer]]''
* San Diego Gopher Snake, ''[[Pituophis catenifer annectens]]''
* Desert Night Snake, ''[[Hypsiglena chlorophaea deserticola]]''
* Coast Night Snake, ''[[Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha ochrorhyncha]]''
* San Diego Night Snake, ''[[Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha klauberi]]''
* Baja California Lyre Snake, ''[[Trimorphodon biscutatus lyrophanes]]''

= Identification Notes =
* Glossy Snakes have smooth shiny dorsal scales and round pupils.
* Gopher Snakes have keeled dorsal scales and round pupiles.
* Night Snakes and Lyre Snakes have smooth shiny dorsal scales and vertical pupils.

= Conservation Status =
No known listings.

= Taxonomic Notes =
Glossy Snakes from the western U.S. are considered to be Short-tailed forms, meaning that they have tails shorter than their eastern counterparts. The short-tailed forms include the California Glossy Snake (''[[taxon:Arizona elegans occidentalis]]''), Arizona Glossy Snake (''[[taxon:Arizona elegans noctivaga]]''), Desert Glossy Snake (''[[taxon:Arizona elegans eburnata]]''), and Mojave Glossy Snake (''[[taxon:Arizona elegans candida]]'').

It has been proposed to split ''Arizona elegans'' into two distinct species. The Western Glossy Snakes would become ''Arizona occidentalis'', and the eastern (Long-tailed forms) would remain ''Arizona elegans''. Currently, NAFHA recognizes all North American Glossy Snake species as ''Arizona elegans''. 

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