Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters


Sharp-tailed Snake

Sharp-tailed Snake

Contia tenuis
This is a small snake, usually reddish-brown, with a thorn-like tip on the tail, a dark stripe across each eye, and black-and-white barring on the underside. When disturbed, the snake may burrow downward rather than slither away. This snake has been found in open areas, forest edges, roadsides, arbutus-oak-Douglas-fir woodlands, and south-facing rocky slopes. High-quality habitat is likely to have concealment cover such as rocks, logs, decaying debris, stumps, boards, and underground burrows.

Stewardship involves conserving open grassy areas, native trees, rock piles, logs, decaying wood, and other snake-friendly hiding places. Snake habitat can be created by placing some logs, boards and rock piles on the ground for protective cover, and by clearing vegetation, especially Scotch Broom, to open some areas to direct sunlight. Creation of damp areas through watering may favour slugs, upon which this snake feeds. If slugs are being controlled in a garden, avoid using chemical slug bait, which may poison snakes. Free-ranging cats may prey upon snakes.