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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.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


an animal that mainly eats meat


mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which bodily functions slow down, reducing their energy requirements so that they can live through a season with little food.

indeterminate growth

Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

soil aeration

digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


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

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Batko, K. 2013. "Arizona elegans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 19, 2014 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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