Body length: 8 - 18"
Diet: Small arthropods
Ground snakes are true ground-dwellers, as their name suggests. They live in tunnel and rock crevice networks, feeding on arthropods such as spiders, centipedes, scorpions, and crickets. Small and secretive, ground snakes are rarely seen by humans. When found, they are easy to confuse with a variety of other snakes. In the Tonto Basin, ground snakes often have dark heads (as in the photo) and resemble blackhead snakes. However, while ground snakes have whitish bellies, blackhead snakes are red or orange underneath.
Ground snakes and several other small snakes have small fangs in the rear of their mouths that deliver a mild venom. Their bite may immobilize their tiny prey, but is certainly not dangerous to humans. At Tonto National Monument, they appear to be most common on shallow slopes at lower elevations.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Biologists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.