Rhinocheilus lecontei
(Longnose Snake)

Key Characteristics
Black saddles separated by reddish-orange
bars and white speckles on all
Long snout with lower jaw recessed
Round pupil
Caudal scales single

General Description:
Longnose snakes are easy to recognize with their alternating black and orangish-red saddles that are flecked with cream spots.  The only other snake that might have this coloration is the Western Ground Snake, and they generally lack the light colored spots.  Another characteristic of Longnose Snakes that is unique among Idaho colubrids, is their caudal scales that are arranged in a single row (Nussbaum et al. 1983).  Longnose snakes have round pupils and as their common name suggests, a long pointed snout.  The lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw (Nussbaum et al. 1983), which adds to the appearance of a long nose.  Longnose snakes have the curious defense behavior of bleeding from the cloaca.  This does not always occur, and the more frequent response, is to coil their body and to vibrate their tail.

Longnose Snakes are medium-sized snakes usually less than 70 cm (~27 in.) in total length (the record is 104 cm) (Nussbaum et al. 1983).

Based on information from southwestern populations, it is believed that Longnose Snakes lay 5-8 eggs in the early summer, which hatch in late summer or early fall (Nussbaum et al. 1983), and young resemble adults.

Longnose Snakes are found in desert lowland areas that have sandy or loose soil and numerous burrows.

Idaho Distribution:
In Idaho, Longnose Snakes can be found in the southwestern desert regions of the state.  They may also occur south of Burley, Idaho.  From northern California, southern Idaho, southeastern Colorado, and southwestern Kansas, south to central Mexico.

Eats lizards and their eggs, small snakes, small mammals, and sometimes birds (in Idaho, eats primarily lizards and mice).

HibernatesClick word for definition/aestivatesClick word for definition. Active from about April to September in northern range. Furtive; abundance indicated by frequency of remains found in hawks' nests (raptors are common predator.) Little is known about Northwest ecology or life history.

Female lays 1 clutch (possibly 2) of 5-8 eggs, from June-August. Eggs hatch in 2-3 mo.



Unprotected nongame species

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Important State Reference:
Diller, L.V. and R.L. Wallace. 1981. Additional distributional records and abundance of three species of snakes in southwestern Idaho. Great Basin Natur. 41:154-157.

Design optimization and revision by Ean Harker ©1999, 2000
Original images provided by Charles R. Peterson and John Cossel Jr. ©1998
Original work by John Cossel Jr. © 1998