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Arizona elegans

What do they look like?

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    75 to 178 cm
    29.53 to 70.08 in

Where do they live?

What kind of habitat do they need?

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2,200 m
    0.00 to ft

How do they grow?

How do they reproduce?

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Glossy snakes breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Glossy snakes breed in the spring and summer.
  • Range number of offspring
    3 to 23
  • Average number of offspring
  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    4 to 25 years

How do they behave?

Home Range

How do they communicate with each other?

What do they eat?

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • cryptic
  • Known Predators
    • Owls
    • Mammals
    • Snakes

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • Mesocestoides sp. (Order Cyclophyllidea, Class Cestoda)
  • Oochoristica osheroffi (Order Cyclophyllidea, Class Cestoda)
  • Physaloptera abjecta (Order Spirurida, Phylum Nematoda)

Do they cause problems?

There are no known adverse effects of these snakes on humans. (Feller, 1996; Hammerson, et al., 2007)

How do they interact with us?

Glossy snakes eat rodents and lizards, therefore controlling potential pest populations. (Hammerson, et al., 2007; Rodriguez-Robles, et al., 1999)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Are they endangered?

Though currently not considered threatened, some populations of glossy snakes have been progressively reduced due to agricultural development and urbanization. No conservation plans have been developed to maintain populations due to this species' stable distribution, number of sub-populations, and population sizes. However, some populations are protected as they live national and state parks. ("Arizona Elegans", 2012; "U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service", 2012; Hammerson, et al., 2007)

Some more information...

It has been suggested that this species includes a subspecies, Arizona elegans occidentalis. (Hammerson, et al., 2007)


Kristen Batko (author), The College of New Jersey, Matthew Wund (editor), The College of New Jersey, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects, Jeremy Wright (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


2012. "Arizona Elegans" (On-line). CITES. Accessed November 12, 2012 at

NatureServe. 2012. "Arizona elegans (Kennicott, 1859): Glossy Snake" (On-line). Nature Serve Explorer. Accessed February 23, 2013 at

2012. "Arizona elegans: Glossy Snake" (On-line). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed February 23, 2013 at

2012. "U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service" (On-line). Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans). Accessed October 25, 2012 at

Aldridge, R. 1979. Female Reproductive Cycles of the Snakes Arizona elegans and Crotalus viridus. Herpetologica, 35, 3: 256-261. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Aldridge, R. 1979. Seasonal spermatogenesis in sympatric Crotalus viridus and Arizona elegans in New Mexico. Herpetologica, 13, 2: 187-192. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Dixon, J. 1959. Geographic variation and distribution of the long-tailed group of the glossy snake, Arizona elegans Kennicott. The Southwestern Naturalist, 4, 1: 20-29. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Ezaz, T., R. Stiglec, F. Veyrunes, J. Graves. 2006. Relationships between vertebrate ZW and XY sex chromosome systems. Current Biology, 16: R736-R743. Accessed February 23, 2013 at

Feller, W. 1996. "Digital Desert" (On-line). Accessed October 30, 2012 at

Goldberg, S., C. Bursey. 2001. Helminths of six species of colubrid snakes from southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 100/2: 109-116. Accessed February 23, 2013 at

Hammerson, G., D. Frost, G. Santos-Barrera, J. Vasquez Diaz, G. Quintero Diaz. 2007. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Arizona elegans. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Luiselli, L. 2006. Resource partitioning and interspecific competition in snakes: the search for general geographical and guild patterns. Oikos, 114, 2: 193-211. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Matsubara, K., H. Tarui, M. Toriba, K. Yamada, C. Nishida-Umehara, K. Agata, Y. Matsuda. 2006. Evidence for different origin of sex chromosomes in snakes, birds, and mammals and step-wise differentiation of snake sex chromosomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103: 18190-18195. Accessed November 12, 2012 at

Mendelson III, J., W. Jennings. 1992. Shifts in the Relative Abundance of Snakes in a Desert Grassland. Journal of Herpetology, 26, 1: 38-45. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

Perry, L. 2004. "How Snakes Work" (On-line). How Stuff Works. Accessed November 12, 2012 at

Rodriguez-Robles, J., C. Bell, H. Greene. 1999. Food Habits of the Glossy Snake, Arizona elegans, with Comparisons to the Diet of Sympatric Long-nosed Snakes, Rhinocheilus lecontei. Herpetologica, 33, 1: 87-92. Accessed October 13, 2012 at

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Batko, K. 2013. "Arizona elegans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 26, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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