Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Arizona elegans


What Do They Look Like?

The glossy snake, or faded snake, refers to a group of snakes found only in the southwestern United States and into Mexico. This specialized, indigenous snake only has one recognized species, elegans, within the genus Arizona, with nine geographically specific subspecies. The glossy snake is a non-venomous snake. The adult glossy snake can reach a length of 2 ½ feet to almost 5 feet in length and has smooth scales, giving it a glossy appearance. The glossy snakes’ coloring ranges from brown to tan with darker splotches of color and a cream or whitish underbelly. These colors may appear muted or faded in the desert sun. Often confused with other similarly patterned snakes such as the gopher snake and night snake, the glossy snake can be quickly identified by its round pupils.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

As an inhabitant of the southwest, the glossy snake can be found in semi-arid grasslands, desert scrub, rocky outcroppings and barren sandy deserts. The snake is nocturnal and burrows into the ground during the day and emerges at night to hunt. The glossy snake eats sleeping lizards, other small reptiles, small birds and mammals. Since it doesn’t have venom glands, the glossy snake sneaks up on its prey, wraps its body around the animal, constricts and suffocates the animal before consuming the prey whole.

More Information

As a non-venomous snake, the glossy snake is often considered beneficial because feeds on the unwanted pests around a home. Minimize contact with the glossy snake by reducing the pests it feeds on. Homeowners should keep landscaping and vegetation neatly trimmed and away from structures. Also, limit moisture by insulating cold water pipes and maintaining hoses, drains and downspouts. Lastly, reduce potential entry points by sealing all gaps and openings into the home, installing door and window seals and maintaining all screens into the home.