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C. tenuis is distributed through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, as well as British Columbia, Canada: Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia around Victoria, British Columbia, and a newly discovered site in Pemberton, British Columbia.
The sharp-tailed snake has an average total length (including tail) of 12–18 in (30–46 cm) as an adult. It is distinguished by its sharp tail spine, which is the protruding tip of the last tail vertebra. The spine is not toxic and cannot injure humans. Rather, the tail is used to stabilize small prey, such as slugs, for consumption. The dorsal surface ranges in color from grayish brown to brown to brick red, with bubble-gum pink and peachy-orange specimens occasionally found. The ventral surface is a striking series of black and white crossbars.
The sharp-tailed snake is a shy, secretive creature most often encountered under rocks and logs, and rarely to never found in the open. It is able to persist in urban areas where appropriate cover can be found. It is known to burrow into soft soil or cracks in the clay, and may be encountered by people who are digging in the garden or removing concrete. When encountered, the sharp-tailed snake may roll into a ball and remain still. It can be mistaken for a worm by the casual observer.
The diet of C. tenuis is largely restricted to slugs and eggs of slugs.
The adult female C. tenuis lays 4–16 eggs in the summer, underground or in a burrow. Each hatchling is 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 cm) in total length (including tail).
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- Contia tenuis - Description, Risk Status.
- Contia tenuis - Sharp-tailed Snake - Description, Pictures.
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