Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis - Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
Considered harmless to humans.
Adults are 11 - 17 inches long (25 - 43 cm)
Smooth, shiny scales, not keeled. The ground color is cream or yellowish and the body is circled with 40 or more black bands, usually with no red crossbands between them. Most black bands do not completely encircle the body. The head is narrow with a large spade-like scale on the tip of a flat shovel-like snout, a countersunk lower jaw, and nasal valves.
Nocturnal. Burrows underground in daytime, but occasionally found by day in shaded areas. Smooth scales, flat shout, concave abdomen, and nasal valves are adaptations that allow for a quick swimming movement through loose sand, with an s-shaped, side-to-side movement. Often seen crossing desert roads at night.
Eats invertebrates: insects, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, larval insects and moths, often while the snake is burrowing.
Lays eggs late spring through summer.
This subspecies, Chionactis occipitalis occipitalis - Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake, is found in the central southern California deserts to the base of the mountains - south and east of the Sierras and Tehachapis, and north and west of the Transverse and Peninsular ranges, north to around the Panamint Valley, south to near the Salton Sea, and east into southern Nevada and west central Arizona.
The species Chionactis occipitalis - Western Shovel-nosed Snake, occurs from the Southern California deserts into Nevada, western Arizona, to Baja California and northern Sonora, Mexico.
Inhabits dry desert habitats with loose sand and often with little vegetation - washes, dunes, sandy flats, rocky hillsides.