Contia tenuis - (Baird and Girard, 1852)
Common Sharp-tailed Snake
Other English Common Names: Sharp-tailed Snake
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Contia tenuis (Baird and Girard, 1852) (TSN 174220)
French Common Names: couleuvre queue fine
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.843987
Element Code: ARADB09010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae Contia
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Feldman, C. R., and R. F. Hoyer. 2010. A new species of snake in the genus Contia (Squamata: Colubridae) from California and Oregon. Copeia 2010: 254-267.
Concept Reference Code: A10FEL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Contia tenuis
Taxonomic Comments: Feldman and Hoyer (2010) formally split Contia tenuis into two species: Contia tenuis, which ranges from southern Vancouver Island (British Columbia) and central Washington to the northern portion of southern California, and C. longicaudae, with a smaller range extending from west-central Oregon to the Monterey Bay region of central California.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Feb2016
Global Status Last Changed: 23Aug2010
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (23Aug2010)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1N2 (02Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States California (S5), Oregon (S4), Washington (S3)
Canada British Columbia (S1S2)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (27Nov2009)
Comments on COSEWIC: This tiny snake is confined to a handful of isolated, small populations in southeastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Most of these populations are threatened by development and may not be viable. Increased search effort since the last assessment has found three previously undiscovered populations. Despite this, it is likely that overall numbers are decreasing and threats continue unabated. Major threats include ongoing development, increasing human populations, off trail recreation, fragmentation by roads and stochastic effects on small populations.

Designated Endangered in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in October 1999 and November 2009.

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: The range extends from northern and central California (along the Coast Ranges south to San Luis Obispo County and the Sierra Nevada south to Tulare County) northward to the Willamette Valley, Oregon, and also includes the Puget Lowland southwest of Tacoma (at least formerly) and scattered locations on the east side of the Cascades in Washington and north-central Oregon, as well as the southern end of Vancouver Island and the nearby Gulf Islands of British Columbia, at elevations from sea level to around 2,010 meters (6,600 feet) (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Brown et al. 1995, Leonard and Ovaska 1998, St. John 2002, Stebbins 2003, Feldman and Hoyer 2010). A record from near McGillivray Lake in south-central British Columbia needs confirmation (Stebbins 2003).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations). Feldman and Hoyer (2010) mapped more than 200 widely distributed collection sites.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 10,000 and probably exceeds 100,000. This species is locally common.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats are known.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably have been relatively stable.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: The range extends from northern and central California (along the Coast Ranges south to San Luis Obispo County and the Sierra Nevada south to Tulare County) northward to the Willamette Valley, Oregon, and also includes the Puget Lowland southwest of Tacoma (at least formerly) and scattered locations on the east side of the Cascades in Washington and north-central Oregon, as well as the southern end of Vancouver Island and the nearby Gulf Islands of British Columbia, at elevations from sea level to around 2,010 meters (6,600 feet) (Nussbaum et al. 1983, Brown et al. 1995, Leonard and Ovaska 1998, St. John 2002, Stebbins 2003, Feldman and Hoyer 2010). A record from near McGillivray Lake in south-central British Columbia needs confirmation (Stebbins 2003).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA, OR, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OR Benton (41003), Curry (41015), Douglas (41019), Jackson (41029), Josephine (41033), Lane (41039), Linn (41043), Polk (41053)*, Tillamook (41057)*, Yamhill (41071)
WA Chelan (53007)+, Kittitas (53037)+, Klickitat (53039)+, San Juan (53055)+, Skamania (53059)+, Yakima (53077)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Upper Columbia-Entiat (17020010), Wenatchee (17020011), Upper Yakima (17030001), Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003), Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula (17070101), Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105), Klickitat (17070106), Coast Fork Willamette (17090002)+, Upper Willamette (17090003)+, Middle Willamette (17090007)+*, Yamhill (17090008)+, Nehalem (17100202)+*, Siuslaw (17100206)+, North Umpqua (17100301)+, South Umpqua (17100302)+, Middle Rogue (17100308)+, Lower Rogue (17100310)+, Illinois (17100311)+*, Chetco (17100312)+, San Juan Islands (17110003)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Diagnostic Characteristics: Contia longicaudae is genetically cohesive, possesses a greater number of caudal scales, a proportionately longer tail, and tends to be larger overall with more pronounced dorsolateral stripes and a more muted ventral coloration than C. tenuis (Feldman and Hoyer 2010).
Reproduction Comments: Reproductive females deposit a clutch of up to 9 egg probably in June or July.
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes moist situations in pastures, meadows, oak woodlands, broken chaparral, and the edges of coniferous or hardwood forests (Stebbins 2003); also shrubby rabbitbrush-sagebrush (Weaver, 2004, Herpetol. Rev. 35:176). This snake generally is found under logs, rocks, fallen branches, or other cover. It retreats underground during dry periods.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Diet apparently is restricted primarily to slugs.
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Most active in the rainy season. Retreats underground in the dry season. Sometimes found alive on roads at night (Weaver, 2004, Herpetol. Rev. 35:176).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Small Colubrid Snakes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh (this barrier does not apply to aquatic or wetland species); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Data are limited to only a few species, but small colubrid snakes such as Diadophis punctatus (Fitch 1975) and Carphophis amoenus (Barbour et al. 1969, Clark 1970) generally have relatively small home ranges less than, or much less than, 1 ha. However, because even small snakes occasionally move large distances (e.g., up to at least 1.7 km in Diadophis punctatus, Fitch 1975). Also, these snakes tend to be secretive and may be easily overlooked or not recorded in areas where they do in fact occur. It seems unlikely that occupied locations separated by a gap of less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent independent occurrences over the long term.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: This specs group is a somewhat arbitrary assemblage of small snakes that are believed to be among the most sedentary species of the family Colubridae.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Aug2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Aug2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1997. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. Fourth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetolgical Circular No. 25. 40 pp.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2012. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. 7th edition. SSAR Herpetological Circular 39:1-92.

  • Feldman, C. R., and R. F. Hoyer. 2010. A new species of snake in the genus Contia (Squamata: Colubridae) from California and Oregon. Copeia 2010: 254-267.

  • Leonard, W. P., and K. Ovaska. 1998. CONTIA, C. TENUIS. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 677:1-7.

  • Nussbaum, R.A., E.D. Brodie, Jr., and R.M. Storm. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. University Press of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. 332 pp.

  • St. John, A. 2002. Reptiles of the northwest. Lone Pine Publishing, Renton, Washington. 272 pp.

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