While hiking in the Cerbat Mountains in Arizona, I encountered this slender 3 foot snake. Most noticeable is the large, patch-like scale on the end of its nose. These tend to be earthtone snakes with black stripes.
The Western Patchnose Snake is found in sandy soils or rocky areas in lowland desert with open creosote bush flats or desert scrub. It is a very fast-moving snake and can disappear quickly if threatened.
It’s eyes are large relative to the size of the head, which is an indication that this is a day-active predator that hunts mainly by sight.
The enlarged scale on its nose is useful for burrowing while in search of its food: lizards, small mammals and reptile eggs. This snake does not constrict its prey, though it does throw loops of its body on top of the prey to subdue it.
Many animals have curious adaptations that give them an advantage in surviving the natural world in which they inhabit. This reptile’s special scale, which appears as if it had been patched on in haste, gives it an edge when rooting out food items from the ground.