Hypsiglena chlorophaea - Cope, 1860
Desert Nightsnake
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
French Common Names: couleuvre nocturne du désert
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.817007
Element Code: ARADB18020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae Hypsiglena
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Mulcahy, D.G. 2008. Phylogeography and species boundaries of the western North American Nightsnake (Hypsiglena torquata): revisiting the subspecies concept. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46:1095-1115.
Concept Reference Code: A08MUL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Hypsiglena chlorophaea
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 12Aug2016
Global Status Last Changed: 14Jul2008
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (14Jul2008)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (02Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arizona (S5), California (SNR), Colorado (S3), Idaho (S3), Navajo Nation (S4), Nevada (S5), New Mexico (S5), Oregon (S3), Utah (S3), Washington (S3)
Canada British Columbia (S2)

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 (06May2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This nocturnal and secretive snake occurs in arid and semi-arid regions of western North America, reaching its northern distributional limits within seasonally hot interior valleys of south-central British Columbia. Throughout its small Canadian distribution, expanding urban and agricultural developments and their associated infrastructures threaten habitats of the species. Scattered distribution pattern, small population size, and no possibility of rescue contribute to the vulnerability of the species and place it at imminent risk of extirpation.

Status history: Designated Endangered in May 2001 and May 2011.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from south-central British Columbia south through Washington, Oregon, southern Idaho, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, northern, western, and much of southernwestern Arizona, northeastern Baja California, and northwestern mainland Mexico (Mulcahy 2008).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences or subpopulations.

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 100,000. The species occupies a wide range and is locally fairly common.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats have been identified. In many areas the rocky habitat tends to be unsuitable for incompatible human uses.

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.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from south-central British Columbia south through Washington, Oregon, southern Idaho, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, northern, western, and much of southernwestern Arizona, northeastern Baja California, and northwestern mainland Mexico (Mulcahy 2008).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NN, NV, OR, UT, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Mohave (04015)
ID Ada (16001), Adams (16003), Bannock (16005)*, Blaine (16013), Butte (16023), Canyon (16027), Elmore (16039), Gem (16045), Idaho (16049), Lewis (16061), Nez Perce (16069), Owyhee (16073)
OR Deschutes (41017)*, Grant (41023), Malheur (41045), Wasco (41065), Wheeler (41069)
UT Beaver (49001), Box Elder (49003), Cache (49005), Emery (49015), Garfield (49017), Grand (49019), Kane (49025), Millard (49027), Salt Lake (49035), San Juan (49037), Sanpete (49039), Sevier (49041), Tooele (49045), Washington (49053), Wayne (49055)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
14 Upper Colorado-Kane Springs (14030005)+, Lower Green (14060008)+, San Rafael (14060009)+, Upper Lake Powell (14070001)+, Fremont (14070003)+, Escalante (14070005)+, Lower Lake Powell (14070006)+, Paria (14070007)+, Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+
15 Kanab (15010003)+, Upper Virgin (15010008)+, Lower Virgin (15010010)+
16 Little Bear-Logan (16010203)+, Jordan (16020204)+, Hamlin-Snake Valleys (16020301)+, Pine Valley (16020302)+, Tule Valley (16020303)+, Rush-Tooele Valleys (16020304)+, Southern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020306)+, Northern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020308)+, East Fork Sevier (16030002)+, Middle Sevier (16030003)+, Lower Sevier (16030005)+, Beaver Bottoms-Upper Beaver (16030007)+*, Sevier Lake (16030009)+
17 Portneuf (17040208)+*, Little Lost (17040217)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, C. J. Idaho (17050101)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Crooked-Rattlesnake (17050109)+*, Lower Owyhee (17050110)+, South Fork Boise (17050113)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Payette (17050122)+, Brownlee Reservoir (17050201)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Upper John Day (17070201)+, Lower John Day (17070204)+, Upper Deschutes (17070301)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: In Idaho, adult females deposit a clutch of several eggs in June; males possibly are sexually mature in 1 year (Diller and Wallace 1986).

Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: This snake generally inhabits arid and semiarid plains, canyons, and hillsides, usually in rocky, dissected or hilly terrain with sandy or gravelly soils, including areas dominated by desert, grassland, shrubland, savanna, or woodland (Hammerson 1999, Stebbins 2003). Periods of inactivity are spend under rocks or other surface cover, in crevices, or underground. In Idaho, individuals can be found under surface rocks in spring, but generally not in summer (Diller and Wallace 1986).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: This snake eats mainly lizards and lizard eggs, sometimes small snakes, frogs, insects, and salamanders (Stebbins 1985, Diller and Wallace 1986).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
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: Medium And Large 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 pertains only to upland species and does not apply to aquatic or wetland snakes); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Available information on movements of colubrid snakes is limited to a small minority of species. These data indicate that nearly all species have home ranges smaller or much smaller than 25 ha (e.g., less than 3 ha, Pituophis catenifer in California, Rodriguez-Robles 2003), with some up to about 75 ha (Heterodon platirhinos, average 50 ha, Plummer and Mills 2000), and the largest up to 225 ha in the biggest colubrids (Drymarchon, summer mean 50-100 ha, USFWS 1998).

Radiotelemetry data for Pantherophis indicate that residents of hibernacula that are 1-2 km apart (with suitable intervening habitat) probably interbreed (Prior et al. 1997, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead 2002). However, "evidence of genetic structure even over short distances (e.g., 2-20 km) implies that gene flow among rat snake populations can be easily disrupted" (Prior et al. 1997). Loughheed et al. (1999) found evidence of substantial genetic exchange among local hibernacula (< 6 km apart), but gene flow over distances of 10s of km appears to be substantially less. Based on extensive radio-tracking data, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead (2002) found that home range size of Pantherophis averaged 18.5 ha and ranged up to 93 ha; based on the most mobile individuals, Pantherophis from hibernacula up to 8 km apart can come together for mating. Pantherophis and probably other colubrids exhibit high fidelity to hibernacula and shift even to nearby sites only rarely (Prior et al. 2001).

Many of the several studies that report small home ranges for colubrids did not employ methods (e.g., radio telemetry) suitable for detecting full annual or multi-annual home range size, dispersal, or other long-distance movements, so these may have yielded underestimates of home ranges or activity areas.

At least some colubrids, including medium-sized species such as garter snakes, not uncommonly move between areas up to a few kilometers apart, and several species make extensive movements of up to several kilometers, so separation distances of 1-2 km for suitable habitat are too small for medium-sized and large colubrids.

A separation distance of 10 km for suitable habitat was selected as most appropriate for snakes assigned to this Specs Group because it seems generally unlikely that two locations separated by less than 10 km of suitable habitat would represent distinct occurrences.

For the purposes of these occurrence specifications, upland habitat is regarded as unsuitable habitat for aquatic and wetland snakes. For upland snakes, shallow or patchy wetlands are treated as unsuitable habitat whereas large deepwater habitats (subjective determination) are barriers.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 12Feb2013
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Separation distance for suitable habitat was changed from 5 km to 10 km based on comments from Dale Jackson (12 Feb 2013).
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: 12Aug2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Aug2009
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
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