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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Night Snakes | 09-29-2016
Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 22
1898 - Birth of Mary S. Ruiz, eldest child of Enrique & Rosaria Ruiz of San Francisquito Canyon; all died in 1928 dam disaster [cemetery census]

Commentary by Mari Carbajal
| Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

maricarbajalOne day, Frank Hoffman, a county staff member at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, found a snake he called a “night snake.” Obviously it was named for being nocturnal, but I’d never heard of such an animal. After spending an hour glaring at this gorgeous little snake – and I do mean little – Frank released him back into the park.

Researching this particular snake, I found it is hard to find and is rarely seen. So it was quite a treat to be able to view this little animal for some time at the Nature Center.

Walking across my property the other morning around 7:30, I saw something move suddenly at my feet. It actually struck at me, and it was a good thing I didn’t step on it. It was in fact a night snake. I was thrilled.

night-snake-w-handThis snake isn’t very big, maybe about 8 inches in length, with a head about the size of a person’s little finger nail. Both of the night snakes I have had the privilege of witnessing were light brown and grey in color with no spectacular markings that would stand out to anyone. And feisty as all get out. I had put this little guy in a jar so I could observe it closer and the slightest movement of my hand would cause him to strike. Because I was afraid he would hurt himself, I watched it for only about five minutes and released it back to the yard.

In researching, I found that not a lot is known about this snake. It lives mostly in rocky areas; territorial defense is unknown; seasonal migration has not been determined; and a “home range” is undetermined.

What is known is that this snake is both nocturnal and crepuscular. It is rarely seen during the day, and during cold climates, it is inactive.

night-snakeReproduction occurs in June and July. The females produce about three to nine eggs (usually four or five), which hatch in about two months. Eggs are laid in crevices and rocky areas.

Night snakes can be prey to owls, hawks and other nocturnal mammals – even other snakes, just because they’re so small.

This animal would be a “researcher’s dream” because very little is known about the species. But I do know it was a fantastic treat to find one in the wild in my own backyard, unharmed, and ready to defend itself no matter what jar I put it in for observation.

Always pay attention, because you never know what you might find.


Mari Carbajal is a docent-naturalist at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.


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  1. Stacy Dailey Stacy Dailey says:

    Bruce Freeman is the agua dulce snake guy and gets calls for these often

  2. They are actually one of the few venomous non rattlesnake reptiles. Mild venom, think bee sting.

  3. Kain Talbott Kain Talbott says:

    Had a baby one outside here the other night, put it over the fence into a field….

  4. Morning noon or night HATE snakes!!!!

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