Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis aeneus) Arizona

Santa Cruz County, AZ

Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis aeneus) Arizona
Santa Cruz Co., AZ
Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis aeneus) Arizona
Santa Cruz Co., AZ

 BROWN VINESNAKE   Oxybelis aeneus
DESCRIPTION: A long (up to 1,620 mm or 60″ in total length) and exceptionally thin snake that closely resembles a vine. Coloration ranges from gray to silver-gray or copper with short, dark, dash-like lines at mid-body. The head is very narrow, pointed, and elongated. A dark line runs from the snout, through the eye, and onto the neck. A furrow runs from the eye to the snout on each side of the head. The throat and lower sides of the face are often bright yellow to yellow-green. This yellow coloration extends onto the underside of the neck and then grades into a plain, cream colored belly. The pupils are round and the scales are smooth.

DISTRIBUTION: This snake has an enormous range extending from South America through Mexico and into extreme south-central Arizona. In our state it has only been documented from the Atascosa, Patagonia, and Pajarito mountains at elevations ranging from 3,600′ to 6,200′.

HABITAT: Within Arizona this snake inhabits the Madrean Evergreen Woodland community and the upper reaches of adjoining Semidesert Grassland. It is usually found in trees or low shrubs on relatively open, steep, and grassy slopes but is also encountered along canyon bottoms with dense vegetation.

The Brown Vinesnake is primarily diurnal. It uses its mild venom, injected by grooved rear teeth, to subdue lizards which make up the bulk of its diet. An excellent climber, this snake spends a lot of time in trees and shrubs where it can be difficult to spot. When captured or threatened it will often hold its mouth open widely exposing the dark lining of the oral cavity and throat.

DIET: Its diet consists or lizards, frogs, fish, and insects.

REPRODUCTION: A clutch of up to eight eggs is laid in summer. Hatchlings begin to appear in August.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Bartlett. 2000. Snakes of North America: Western
Gulf Publishing Co. Houston, TX

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Fowlie. 1965. The Snakes of Arizona. Azul Quinta Press, Fallbrook, California

Lowe, Schwalbe, Johnson. 1986. The Venomous Reptiles of Arizona. Nongame Branch
Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Stebbins. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY

Brown Vinesnake (Oxybelis aeneus) Arizona Range Map

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