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Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 12th, 2018, 1:14 pm
by Gary N
This snake was found in San Jose, California.
My best guess is common sharp-tailed snake, Contia tenuis, but the tail doesn't look quite right. I've never seen one coil up like this one and it appears too thin. The tail looks more like that of a ring-necked snake, but I would expect to see some evidence of a pale ring on the neck even on a melanistic ring-necked snake, and there should spots on the belly instead of bars, which indicate sharp-tail.

I have ruled out night snake because of the horizontal pupils and the black-headed snake should not be found in San Jose, though it is found nearby.

Any ideas?

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Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 6:28 am
by Paul Freed
It sure looks like a melanistic Sharp-tailed Snake. I would contact Richard Hoyer, he's is the definitive authority on that species and he would know for sure.
-Paul

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 8:37 am
by Richard F. Hoyer
Gary,
Without being able to view the length of the tail in relation to the snake's vent, that renders an opinion less than reliable.

But it looks as if the tail is long in relation to where I believe the vent is located, the tip not a really sharp point, and with the tail partly coiled, my guess is that it is a Ringneck. But one needs to have the snake in hand or a better batch of photos to be certain.

Richard FH

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 4:50 pm
by Gary N
Thanks, Richard. I'm sure you're right.
The tail length and shape is what concerned me most.
Unfortunately, these are the best pictures available as the snake was released.
Until seeing this snake, I hadn't realized how similar the two species are without the natural coloring.
This leads me to ask you and others if anyone has ever seen a melanistic sharp-tailed snake. The only unusually-colored Contia I've seen is in this photo by Jackson Shedd:

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Richard F. Hoyer wrote:Gary,
Without being able to view the length of the tail in relation to the snake's vent, that renders an opinion less than reliable.

But it looks as if the tail is long in relation to where I believe the vent is located, the tip not a really sharp point, and with the tail partly coiled, my guess is that it is a Ringneck. But one needs to have the snake in hand or a better batch of photos to be certain.

Richard FH

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 13th, 2018, 9:27 pm
by Ronquillo08
It's hard to say, but to me from a defensive behavior side it's not looping its tail enough to be a ringneck. But as Paul said I would go with Mr. Hoyer's knowledge on this one.

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 4:11 pm
by yoloherper
Definitely a ringneck. Pretty sweet looking!

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 7:12 pm
by El Garia
Cool looking snake. I'm going with Ring-necked, too.

Regarding the presence of Tantilla in San Jose, they are present in more than one locale in San Jose.

Derek

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 14th, 2018, 8:21 pm
by Gary N
The snake was actually found in South San Jose. Now that I check the maps more carefully, the location is not far south of a museum locality for Tantilla southeast of South San Jose. That means we also have to consider Tantilla. But does Tantilla ever coil its tail even as little as this snake does?

Email me at my Californiaherps.com address and I'll tell you the location if you want to know if it was found near one of the Tantilla localities you know about.



El Garia wrote:Cool looking snake. I'm going with Ring-necked, too.

Regarding the presence of Tantilla in San Jose, they are present in more than one locale in San Jose.

Derek

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 1:09 pm
by El Garia
Hi Gary. Sorry for taking too long to get back to you. My computer went kaput, so I had to get a new one.

If the San Jose find that you're referring to was submitted by Dr. Jeff, I found my Tantilla at the same South San Jose locale. Found several on one outing when I was in junior high, circa 1980ish. They can be found in the South San Jose hills and throughout the Diablo Range. They're tough to find, as you need to identify when they are active, but I suspect that they are plentiful where present (which I believe is not a case of spot localities, but wide-spread distribution throughout the hills mentioned. I have a friend who found a ridiculous number of Tantilla just southeast of San Jose in a single afternoon. I'm guessing the conditions were right that day, but I suspect that they have a very abbreviated activity window where they can be found.

So far as Tantilla coiling their tails, I've not noticed it. That said it has been some time since I have found one.

I'll email the locales to you...

Derek

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 16th, 2018, 5:49 pm
by Gary N
This spot is between your location and the others in the hills to the east, so there probably are Tantilla where it was found. But with the tail coil, I'm still thinking Ring-neck.


El Garia wrote:Hi Gary. Sorry for taking too long to get back to you. My computer went kaput, so I had to get a new one.

If the San Jose find that you're referring to was submitted by Dr. Jeff, I found my Tantilla at the same South San Jose locale. Found several on one outing when I was in junior high, circa 1980ish. They can be found in the South San Jose hills and throughout the Diablo Range. They're tough to find, as you need to identify when they are active, but I suspect that they are plentiful where present (which I believe is not a case of spot localities, but wide-spread distribution throughout the hills mentioned. I have a friend who found a ridiculous number of Tantilla just southeast of San Jose in a single afternoon. I'm guessing the conditions were right that day, but I suspect that they have a very abbreviated activity window where they can be found.

So far as Tantilla coiling their tails, I've not noticed it. That said it has been some time since I have found one.

I'll email the locales to you...

Derek

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 28th, 2018, 4:10 pm
by Porter
Definitely ringneck :thumb: awesome snake!

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 28th, 2018, 4:55 pm
by Porter
I just had some time to look at that again and that may be the baddest f*cking snake morph I’ve ever seen :lol:

Nafis, I think the reason the ring isn’t visible is because the ring is always a few shades lighter than the belly. Also I think I saw pics posted of a ring-less ringneck. Shape dynamics of the body and the way the body lays out in the hand, along with head size say ringer to me. So cool :thumb:

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 28th, 2018, 5:14 pm
by Porter
...Although, I have never held a tantilla. :?:

My impression and understanding of tantilla from pics, vids, and story’s of them looking like frantic spaghetti noodles when crossing roads, is that they are stiff bodied like rhino and glossy glossys...and more relatively sized, night snakes...

Anyone got some in hand pics of tantilla..?

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 29th, 2018, 1:24 pm
by Gary N
In-hand is the only way some people can shoot Tantilla, so there are a bunch on this page

http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/p ... iceps.html


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Porter wrote:...Although, I have never held a tantilla. :?:

My impression and understanding of tantilla from pics, vids, and story’s of them looking like frantic spaghetti noodles when crossing roads, is that they are stiff bodied like rhino and glossy glossys...and more relatively sized, night snakes...

Anyone got some in hand pics of tantilla..?

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 29th, 2018, 3:51 pm
by Porter
Hey no complaints here... best aspect for about those little snakes is the belly :thumb: :thumb: (cool dorsal color too).

Yeah see, I look at those pics and the body structure more resembles a night snake, long nose, or glossy. Ground snake hard bodies. Ringneck are softer and flatten out. But, idk...maybe a relaxed tantilla would look the same. The pics of the melly are tricky...in the 2nd shot, the angle of the head pointing towards the cam looks more like a sharptail than anything else to me...

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: August 30th, 2018, 6:04 am
by Jeremy Wright
Very Interesting.

To me, the shape of the head (especially in pic 2) and the coloration of the venter look like that of sharp tailed.

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: September 27th, 2018, 1:27 am
by FunkyRes
Gary N wrote:Thanks, Richard. I'm sure you're right.
The tail length and shape is what concerned me most.
Unfortunately, these are the best pictures available as the snake was released.
Until seeing this snake, I hadn't realized how similar the two species are without the natural coloring.
This leads me to ask you and others if anyone has ever seen a melanistic sharp-tailed snake. The only unusually-colored Contia I've seen is in this photo by Jackson Shedd:

Image


I've seen one, in Redding where there are no ringneck (have to go higher in elevation to where salamanders are). I think I vouchered it at naherp, I'll go look.

Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed

Posted: September 27th, 2018, 1:32 am
by FunkyRes