Texas Glossy Snake

Arizona elegans arenicola


Non-Venomous - Considered harmless to humans.

Adults 51–76 cm (20–30 in) average total length (TL), rarely exceeding 91.4 cm (36 in). Although, this species has been recorded at 138.6 cm (54.6 in). A medium sized slender snake with smooth shiny scales in 29 to 35 rows at mid body (avg. 32)[1]. The anal plate is not divided, the snout is slightly elongated, and the lower jaw is inset.

The basic coloration and pattern is composed of an average of 50 large brown body blotches[1] with very thin dark borders over an off-white ground color. The total number of blotches can vary from 41-60[1]. The venter itself is usually a uniform cream or white in color. There is a dark mask-like line that bridges the top of the head from eye to eye and runs from the eye to the angle of the jaw on each side of the head.

In areas where the range of the Kansas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans elegans overlaps that of the Texas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans arenicola distinction between the subspecies can usually be made by comparing the number of scales at mid body and the number of body blotches. The Kansas Glossy Snake has a generally lower scale count of 29 or 31 scales at mid body. The average number of the Kansas Glossy Snake is also higher at 55 blotches compared to the body blotch average 50 in the Texas Glossy Snake.

The Texas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans arenicola is categorized as an eastern or long-tailed form with its tail accounting for approximately 14% if its TL (snout to tip of tail).

Similar Species

Quick ID Notes


Historical occurrence: Found in southern Texas, and from the state's central crosstimbers into its eastern pine forest[1]. Also found in extreme northern Mexico on the Rio Grande plain.


May be found primarily in sandy soil terrain and Tamaulipan woodland.


Glossy Snakes in general are very secretive nocturnal animals that are rarely seen active in the daytime. They are excellent burrowers and spend the daylight hours in burrows, under rocks, under artificial cover or buried in soft soil.

Emergence from winter hibernation occurs as the weather warms in May with fall disappearance occurring in September. Glossy Snakes in general are very docile when handled, and seldom attempt to bite when captured.


Oviparous. Females may deposit up to 24 eggs averaging 6.9 cm (2.75 in) long. The young hatch in September and Early October and measure 24-28 cm (9.5-11 in) TL.[1]


A constrictor feeding primarily on lizards and small rodents.

Meaning of Scientific Name

Areo (Latin) to be dry + Zona (Latin) belt of earth, zone. Alternate meaning; Arizonac (American Indian) place of springs, ref. Arizona region.[2]
(Latin) fine or elegant.[2]
(Latin) inhabitant of a sandy area — ref. principle soil type of habitat.[2]

Conservation Status

No known listings.

Taxonomic Notes

The Texas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans arenicola was described by James Dixon in 1960.

Glossy Snakes from the western U.S. are considered to be short-tailed forms, meaning that in proportion to their overall body length, they have tails shorter than their eastern counterparts. The short-tailed forms include the California Glossy Snake Arizona elegans occidentalis, Arizona Glossy Snake taxon:Arizona elegans noctivaga, Desert Glossy Snake Arizona elegans eburnata, and Mojave Glossy Snake Arizona elegans candida. The eastern long-tailed forms include the Texas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans arenicola, Kansas Glossy Snake Arizona elegans elegans, Chihuahuan Glossy Snake Arizona elegans expolita, and Painted Desert Glossy Snake Arizona elegans philipi.

It has been proposed to split Arizona elegans into two distinct species. The short-tailed western Glossy Snakes would become Arizona occidentalis, and the eastern long-tailed forms would remain Arizona elegans. Currently, NAFHA recognizes all North American Glossy Snake species as Arizona elegans with the exception of the Peninsular Glossy Snake Arizona pacata.


  1. Tennant, Alan. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Lone Star Books, 2003
  2. Beltz, Ellin. Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained, http://ebeltz.net/herps/etymain.html, 2006


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