The Chionactis occipitalis can be located in the Low deserts of western and South-central Arizona. Here, at elevations ranging from near sea level to ca. 2500. Although the snake’s range seems to be declining in the Eastern portion. Additionally, the populations close to Tucson and Paradise Valley have been eradicated.
They reside in the Lower Colorado River Sonoran Deserts rub and Mohave Desert Communities. Also, this snake is usually found close to washes in desert flats or on gently sloping bajadas. They are ground dwellers and primarily crepuscular. Although they are sometimes active into the night and mild days. They feed on insects, spiders, centipedes, reptile eggs and so on. Lastly, their mating takes place in spring. In summer, a clutch of about 9 eggs is laid.
It is a small snake of about 369 mm or 15” in length. It has more than 20 black or dark brown bands on a cream/light yellow background. Their snout is light yellow or cream. They also have a black mask which crosses the top of the head and covers the eyes. Along with their underside being cream, it has a countersunk jaw and valves in the nasal passages. Additionally, the snake has a concave belly and a relatively flat snout. With these qualities, the Western Shovel-nosed Snake is well equipped for burrowing under fine sand and loose gravel. Lastly, their pupils are round and their scales are shiny and smooth.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians