Western Patchnose Snake
Body length: 20 - 46"
Diet: Eggs, lizards, small mammals, insects
Patchnose snakes regularly feed on the eggs of lizards and other snakes. Some scientists believe that the distinctive "patch nose" or enlarged nose scale, is an adaptation for excavating eggs. Patchnose snakes are day-active and are regularly seen on the trails at Tonto National Monument. Look for a fast, tan-colored snake with long stripes.
As ectotherms (a more accurate term for "cold-blooded" animals, or animals which derive their temperature from the surrounding environment) reptiles control body temperature by carefully selecting a location, and by being active only when the outside temperature is ideal. One reason most snake species are rarely seen is that ideal temperature "windows" may be very brief. Patchnose snakes are very tolerant of both high and low temperatures, however, and have one of the longest activity periods of any snake in the Southwest deserts. They may be seen in early spring, on the hottest summer days, and late in the fall.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument averages 15" of rain annually. Snow is a rare occurrence, but as long as temperatures remain above freezing, the saguaros don't seem to mind!