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 Post subject: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 12th, 2018, 1:14 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:07 am
Posts: 198
Location: Earth
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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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 13th, 2018, 6:28 am 
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Joined: November 10th, 2013, 12:14 pm
Posts: 102
Location: Pacific Northwest (Oregon) U.S.
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


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 13th, 2018, 8:37 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
Posts: 510
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


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 13th, 2018, 4:50 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:07 am
Posts: 198
Location: Earth
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



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


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 13th, 2018, 9:27 pm 
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Joined: July 19th, 2017, 10:22 pm
Posts: 54
Location: Western Washington (Not Seattle)
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.


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 14th, 2018, 4:11 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:57 pm
Posts: 145
Location: Davis/Santa Cruz
Definitely a ringneck. Pretty sweet looking!


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 14th, 2018, 7:12 pm 
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Joined: October 20th, 2011, 3:39 pm
Posts: 713
Location: Santa Clara Co. , CA
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


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 Post subject: Re: Melanistic Snake Identification Needed
PostPosted: August 14th, 2018, 8:21 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:07 am
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Location: Earth
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


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