Sharp-tailed Snake

The Sharp-tailed Snake in Our Yard

I never would have imagined that two snakes were living underground in our small California front yard. My husband did not know the danger as he used a lawn edger near their hidden home. Somehow he saw what happened: two snakes (or were they earthworms at first glance?) injured suddenly by the edger. One snake disappeared quickly into a hole. The other could not find a way to follow.

Thinking it was an earthworm, he examined the snake. He observed its coppery back and underneath a non-worm like pattern of black and white bands.

Sadly, he also observed two major injuries. Upon consulting with me, we thought that there would be no chance. My husband laid the snake underneath a bush. However, an hour later, he found it still alive. We identified the type of snake online. At that point, we made the decision to consult the website of a local wildlife rehabilitation hospital. Amazingly, the hospital had a history of helping these tiny snakes.

After making a makeshift terrarium, we bundled up our then six-month-old daughter for the thirty minute drive. She loves outings, and she already seems to love animals. Sadly, the snake passed away soon after we arrived at the hospital. At least we had the knowledge that we did something for this small inhabitant of our home.

Sharp-tailed Snake Life

We are lucky that these snakes live in our yard. They typically prefer habitats with lots of twigs, bark, and other cover. They live along the coast in California and also in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Our house is somewhat in between.

Perhaps the snake was attracted to our yard by the abundance of slugs, the snake's favorite food. I always try to motivate my husband not to put down slug killer, because I find snails and slugs interesting to watch. So inadvertently, we created a convenient habitat. The snakes are not territorial, and many will gather in a suitable place. During the lawn edger incident, my husband was already able to observe two snakes. The sharp tail on the snake may serve as an anchor in wrestling incidents with sticky and suctioned slugs.

The snakes lay eggs in June or July, and young snakes, about 3 inches in length compared to the 10 to 18 inches of adults, make their appearance in autumn.

The snakes remain underground during hot and dry weather. (I also feel like doing this during our long, hot summer.) They forage at dawn and dusk on rainy days in search of slug targets.