Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake (Chionactis palarostris)

Sonoran snake control and removal is a specialized service that should only be performed by a professional, you can find a snake removal company that will handles these snakes at Phoenix Snake Removal, or you can also use our site to find a Wildlife removal professional in your area
Believe it or not, Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes can be great to have around. After all, they love to eat a variety of animals we consider to be pests. And despite their startling appearance, Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes are harmless to humans. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with a possible Sonoran shovel-nosed snake on your property.

Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake ID and Habits

Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes are small – no longer than 17 inches – with fewer than 20 dark brown to black bands on a cream to light yellow background. The red saddles are separated from the black bands by a margin of cream to light yellow background color. The snout is cream or light yellow. A black mask crosses the top of the head and covers the eyes. The underside is cream. They’re found only in south-central Arizona, in the Sonoran desert.
Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes eat mainly insects, spiders, scorpions, and moth larvae, burrowing or “swimming” through sand in search of prey.
Shovel-nosed snakes sometimes hide under the surface cover of debris, rocks, bushes, or clumps of grass. These snakes often lie just under the surface of the sand where they can be heated by the warmth of the sun without exposing themselves. Like any animal, they are opportunists, using the burrows of rodents when they can. They nocturnal, and are most active in spring, hibernating in fall and winter.

Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake Control

If you’re ever bitten by a Sonoran shovel-nosed snake, make sure to get it checked out. Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes may strike repeatedly, but their teeth are small and they are not venomous; with any wild animal bite there’s a risk of infection.
After proper identification, there are several steps to dealing with snake problems: making your property less inviting to snakes (habitat modification); dealing with any snakes that are already there; and preventing more snakes from entering your home or building (exclusion).

Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake Habitat Modification

In settings where these snakes are common, their presence can be discouraged by eliminating piles of rock, lumber, and debris that might attract them to search for prey or to seek shelter – especially close to buildings. Since they’re burrowers, the closing of all entrances to rodent burrows make an area less attractive to snakes. Clean up all debris in the yard and storage areas. Store firewood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from walls. Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets; this will discourage the presence of some of the insects that sand snakes hunt.

Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake Exclusion

Follow these steps to keep Sonoran shovel-nosed snakes out of homes and other buildings:
Conduct a thorough search for cracks in the foundation, unscreened crawlspace vents and gaps around basement window frames.
Structural gaps and crevices larger than 1/4 inch and within three feet of grade should be closed off – snakes can pass through very small openings.
Crawlspace vents should not have screens with larger than 1/4 inch mesh.
Check clearance under doors, and look for improper sealing where plumbing and utility lines, wires or cables penetrate the foundation of the building.
Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves.
Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.
Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weatherstripping.
Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for pest animals.
Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
Keep lids on garbage cans.

Sonoran Shovel-Nosed Snake Removal

If you’re confident that you do indeed have a Sonoran shovel-nosed snake in your house, and you want to deal with it yourself, try this: place a trashcan on the side of the snake, and use a broom or a similar tool to gently sweep it inside the trashcan. Relocate it well away from residential areas, and seal up any openings in your house where it can get back in.
If you have any doubt about which kind of snake you have, or if you suspect several, a call to a snake removal or pest control company is warranted.