Charina bottae - Northern Rubber Boa
Considered harmless to humans.
Adults 15 - 33 inches (35 - 84 cm.) Typical size of adults is 15 - 25 inches. Newborns 7.5-9 inches.
Small or dwarf populations have been found in the Tehachapi, Greenhorn and Paiute Mountains, on Breckenridge Mountain, and on Mt. Pinos.
A small constrictor with a stout body and smooth shiny small-scaled loose and wrinkled skin which gives the snake a rubbery look and feel. Light brown, dark brown, pink, tan, or olive-green above, and yellow, orange, or cream colored below. Usually uniform in color on the back, but sometimes dark spots or mottling occur, especially in northern populations, possibly due to scarring. Usually no pattern below, but sometimes there is dark mottling. Young snakes are pink or tan, and can be brightly-colored. Eyes are small with vertically elliptical pupils.
The tail is short and blunt and looks like a head. When threatened, the snake hides its head in its coiled body, and elevates the tail to fool an attacker into attacking the tail. Snakes with scarred tails are common.
Nocturnal and crepuscular, sometimes active in daylight. Sometimes active in weather that would be too cold for most reptiles, with surface temperatures in the 50s. A good burrower, climber and swimmer. Often found under logs, boards and other debris, sometimes on roads at dusk. Known to live as long as 40 - 50 years in the wild.
Eats small mammals, birds, salamanders, lizards, and snakes, possibly frogs.
Bears 1 - 9 live young from August to November.
Found from northern Monterey County north along the coast ranges into the Siskiyou Mountains and the northern Great Basin and south through the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Tehachapi Mountains. In 2008 and 2010 it was confirmed from Montana de Oro on the coast of San Luis Obispo County. Absent from the Great Valley and deserts. Ranges out of California north through Oregon and Washington into Canada and east through northern Nevada and Utah into western Wyoming and Montana.
There is a large gap in the documented range of this species along the central coast between southern Monterey County and and the Mt. Pinos area, except for a locality in Montana De Oro in San Luis Obispo County. There is reason to believe it occurs in these ares, including suitable habitat and anecdotal evidence, but no other specimens or vouchers have been documented yet. A California Department of Fish and Game distribution map for the species shows a continuous distribution from Monterey Bay to northwest Santa Barbara County.
Populations of small or dwarf snakes are found in the Tehachapi, Greenhorn and Paiute Mountains, on Breckenridge Mountain, and on Mt. Pinos. These are classified as Southern Rubber Boas - Charina umbratica (or Charina bottae umbratica) or as subspecies intergrades in old literature, but they are now recognized as Northern Rubber Boas.
Some literature, including literature from the California Department of Fish and Game, refers to boas in the Tehachapi mountains and the Mt. Pinos area as either Southern Rubber Boas or intergrades between two subspecies, but these are now considered to be the Northern Rubber Boa - Charina bottae. I have changed my range map to reflect this distribution, but as of 2012, the California Department of Fish and Game still recognizes two subspecies of Charina bottae, and apparently they still consider the Mt. Pinos boas to be the protected subspecies, C. b. umbratica. The most recent information I can find from them is this 2004 species account:
"The southern rubber boa is known from several localities in the San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino County, near Idyllwild in Riverside County, and on Mount Pinos in Kern County."..."Possible intergrades between the southern rubber boa and the rubber boa found in the Tehachapi Mountains and on Mt. Pinos warrant further study."
Grassland, mountain meadows, chaparral, woodland, along streamsides, deciduous and coniferous forest. From sea level to over 10,000 ft. elevation.
Formerly, one species of Charina was recognized, Charina bottae, with three subspecies.
Some herpetologists still only recognize one species of Charina, Charina bottae, with either no subspecies or with two subspecies - Charina bottae bottae - Northern Rubber Boa, and Charina bottae umbratica - Southern Rubber Boa.
Others recognize two full species of Charina, as is done on this site - Charina bottae - Northern Rubber Boa, and Charina umbratica - Southern Rubber Boa.