ESA Protections Sought For Tucson Shovel-nosed Snake

The USFWS first warranted the snake needed protections and then reversed it in 2014.
Tucson Shovel Nosed Usgs Fpwc
The Tucson shovel-nosed snake has a limited range in Arizona. It feeds on scorpions. Photo by USGS.

The Tucson shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis occipitalis klauberi) a beautiful snake native to Arizona that is noted for its black and red stripes should be listed as an endangered species because the reptile’s prime habitat is threatened by urban sprawl, according to a petition the Center for Biological Diversity sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The lovely Tucson shovel-nosed snake needed protection in 2004 when we first filed a petition, and it still needs it today,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center said in a statement released to the media. “Federal safeguards for this snake will mean preserving more of the natural desert we all love.”

The snake’s range is limited to areas in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties, which is also known as the “Sun Corridor megapolitan” due primary to the rapid pace of development. The Center says that the reptile only can be found on flat, valley bottoms, which is the same area that is considered prime development space.

The Center first petitioned the USFWS in 2004 to protect the snake. The service found in 2010 that the snake warranted protections but then put the reptile on the candidate list instead. In 2014, the USFWS reversed its position and determined that it didn’t warrant any protections at all.


Sand And Scrub-dwelling Snake Species

X-Ray Footage Of A Shovel-Nose Snake Moving Under A Sand Bed


A study commissioned by the Center found that the snake, which glides through sandy soil as if it is swimming effortlessly, has lost 39 percent of its habitat, and the remaining habitat is vulnerable to development.

Tucson Shovel-nosed Snake Information

The Tucson shovel-nosed snake grows to less than 2-feet in length and has a shovel shaped nose and an inset lower jaw, which enables it to burrow through soil fairly effortlessly. The color of the snake, a pale yellow to cream colored body with black and red bands, mimics that of the venomous coral snake. It is often found in soft soils, sandy loams and sparse gravel. It feeds on scorpions.

Categories: Snake Information & News, Wild Snakes