• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

Lyre Snake

lyre snake

Lyre Snake

NPS Photo

Lyre Snake
Trimorphodon biscutatus

Body length: 18 - 48"
Diet: Lizards, birds, rodents, and bats

This snake is named for the distinctive mark on the back of its head, which resembles the harp-like musical instrument of ancient Greece. Excellent climbers, lyre snakes are found in deep crevices and fissures on cliff and rock faces, and sometimes in trees. They are rarely seen except at night following summer rains.

When disturbed, lyre snakes are one of several species which imitate rattlesnakes, flattening their head and "rattling" their tail against dry plants. Through grooved rear teeth they deliver a mild venom that apparently has a greater effect on lizards, their primary food, than on small mammals. There is no evidence that their bite is harmful to humans.

Did You Know?

old photo of the Lower Cliff Dwellings

The first known written record of the cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument dates from 1880. Archeologist Adolph Bandelier visited the dwellings in 1883, and said they were some of the best preserved he had ever seen. More...