Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake - Illustration by Bill Singleton


Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake
Chionactis palarostris organica


The Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake is a subspecies of the Sonoran shovel-nosed snake (C. palarostris). It is a relatively small (10-17 inches long), dark and light banded snake with a shovel-shaped snout which is flatter than most other snakes. The body is whitish or yellow in color with black, yellow (or whitish) and red crossbands. Most of the black bands encircle the body. The red, saddle-like bands may vary in width from the same size as the black bands to approximately three times wider.1 Like other shovel-nosed snakes, C. p. organica is harmless to humans.

Habitat: C. p. organica is a snake of arid lands. In Arizona, it occurs in upland desert in the palo verde-saguaro association. The ground surface may be rocky or sandy, but is generally coarser and more irregular than that occupied by the Western Shovel-nosed Snake (C. occipitalis).1

Range: The Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake is only found in extreme southern Arizona, mainly in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and along the Sonoyta-Ajo road to about 25 miles north of the border with Mexico. Other species of the Sonoran Shovel-nosed Snake occur in Sonora to south of Hermosillo, Mexico.1

Reproduction: The Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake will normally lay a clutch of 2­4 eggs during the summer.

Diet: The diet consists of cockroaches, crickets, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and other insects.

Status: Currently, there is no federal status identified for the Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake.

Organ Pipe Shovel-nosed Snake in Pima County: C. p. organica currently exists within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the surrounding area. Its protection is based primarily upon management practices employed within the monument's boundaries.



1. Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Second edition, revised. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

2. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish et al. 1998. BISON-M: New Mexico Species List/Species Accounts.

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