Charina umbratica - Southern Rubber Boa
Considered harmless to humans.
Typical size of adults is small - 11 - 15 inches.
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. Uniform in dorsal color - light brown, dark brown, pink, tan, or olive-green above, and yellow, orange, or cream colored below. 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.
Eats small mammals, birds, and, lizards.
Breeds from April to June, bearing 2 - 8 live young in late summer or early autumn.
Endemic to California.
Found only in a few disjunct areas in montane southern California in the San Bernardino, San Jacinto Mountains.
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."
Inhabits Oak-conifer and mixed-conifer forests at elevations between roughly 5,000 to 8,200 ft. where rocks and logs or other debris provide shelter.
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.
Conservation Issues (Conservation Status)
Common where it occurs, this snake is considered a threatened species due to development and habitat degredation in its limited range.