California night snake

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California night snake
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Hypsiglena
Species: H. ochrorhyncha
Subspecies: H. o. nuchalata
Trinomial name
Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchalata
W.W. Tanner, 1943
Hypsiglena torquata nuchalata distribution.svg
California night snake range
  • Hypsiglena nuchalatus
    W.W. Tanner, 1943
  • Hypsiglena torquata nuchalata
    A.H. Wright & A.A. Wright, 1957[1]

The California night snake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchalata) is a subspecies of small colubrid snake native to California.[2]


The California night snake grows to a total length of 12 to 26 inches (30 to 66 cm), with hatchlings about 7 inches in total length.[3]

The snake has a narrow flat head, smooth dorsal scales in 19 rows, and eyes with vertically elliptical pupils.[3] They are rear-fanged and considered to be venomous, but not dangerous to humans.[3]

Its color may be light gray, light brown, tan, or cream, often matching the substrate of the region, with dark brown or dark grey blotches down the back and sides.[3] The underside is whitish or yellowish and unmarked, and they usually have a pair of large dark markings on the neck, and a dark bar through or behind the eyes.[3]


As their common name implies, they are a primarily nocturnal snake.[3]


Their diet consists of primarily lizards, but they will also eat smaller snakes, and occasionally soft bodied insect.


They prefer semiarid habitats with rocky soils.


They are an oviparous subspecies that breeds from April to September.

Geographic range[edit]

The Coast night snake ranges throughout western California, ringing the central valley, but is not found in the valley itself.[3] It is one of two night snake species in the state. The other is the desert night snake, Hypsiglena chlorophaea.


  1. ^ Wright, A.H., and A.A. Wright. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. Comstock. Ithaca and London. 1,105 pp. (in 2 volumes) (Hypsiglena torquata nuchalata, pp. 322-324, Figure 99. + Map 30. on p. 315.)
  2. ^ ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha nuchalata - California Nightsnake". Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Tanner, W.W. 1943. Two new species of Hypsiglena from western North America. Great Basin Naturalist 4 (1 & 2): 49-54. (Hypsiglena nuchalatus sp. nov., pp. 49-53.)

External links[edit]