An adult Long-nosed Snake from Finney County. © Travis W. Taggart.
An adult Long-nosed Snake from Finney County, Kansas. © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Long-nosed Snake from Pratt County. Image © Trey Harrison.
An adult Long-nosed Snake from Finney County. © Travis W. Taggart.
A juvenile Long-nosed Snake from Barber County. © Nate Nelson.
REPTILIA (Reptiles) SQUAMATA (PART) (Snakes) COLUBRIDAE (Harmless Egg-laying Snakes)

Long-nosed Snake
Rhinocheilus lecontei Baird & Girard 1853
rhī-nō-kī-lŭs — lē-kŏn-tē-ī


Conservation Status:

State: Kansas Species in Need of Conservation (SINC)

Federal: None
NatureServe State: S3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe National: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Global: G5 - Secure
CITES: None
Diagnosis:
HARMLESS. The Long-nosed Snake is characterized by smooth scales, a single anal scale, a generally white, unpatterned belly, and at least half the scales on the underside of the tail not divided into two rows, a character not found in any other harmless snake in Kansas. The ground color of this snake is yellowish or cream with 18- 35 black blotches on the body separated by pink or reddish interspaces. The tail has 6- 17 blotches. The belly is cream or white and normally unpatterned, but occasional specimens have black or brown markings. Adult males have slightly· longer tails and grow larger than females.
Adults normally grow 56.0-76.0 cm (22-32 inches) in total length. The largest specimen from Kansas is a male (KU 288638) from Barber County with a total length of 87.7 cm (34½ inches) collected by Steve Kamb on 15 May 1993. The maximum length throughout the range is 104.1 cm (41 inches) (Powell et al., 2016).

Distribution:
The majority of the records come from rocky areas in the High Plains and the Red Hills Prairie. This is most likely because these areas are searched most often. However, records from less easily sampled sandy areas (i.e. Pratt, southern Finney, and Logan counties) indicate that this species may be more widespread (and thus more difficult to collect) than currently understood. It probably reaches its peak abundance in the sand-sage prairies south of the Arkansas River west of Gray County.
(,   Museum Voucher) (,   Observation) (,   Literature Record) (,   iNat Record), (  Fossil)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
Full range depicted by light shaded red area. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 168
    Records 
  • 139
    Museum Vouchers 
  • 29
    Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Barber (31); Clark (4); Comanche (11); Edwards (1); Finney (33); Ford (1); Grant (6); Gray (2); Hamilton (8); Harper (3); Haskell (1); Kearney (4); Kearny (2); Kingman (1); Kiowa (1); Logan (1); Meade (24); Morton (20); Pratt (5); Seward (5); Stanton (3); Stevens (1);

Fossil History:
Pleistocene fossil specimens are known from the Borchers local fauna of Meade County (Brattstrom, 1967; Holman, 1995).

Natural History:
This snake is active from April to September on open prairies, sandy regions, and beneath rocks along the slopes of canyons. Long-nosed Snakes are nocturnal, retreating to underground burrows during the day. During winter, this snake avoids cold temperatures by burrowing deep beneath the ground. Miller (1983) found a Long-nosed Snake under a large rock on a southwest-facing hillside in Barber County on 11 June. Miller (1987) reported on three of these reptiles, one collected on 2 May in Clark County and two on 7 July in Meade County; the Clark County specimen was found under a rock, while the Meade County specimens were observed crossing a highway at night.
Mating occurs during spring after emergence from winter inactivity. A female lays from four to nine eggs (average six) in an underground nest, and the eggs hatch in two to three months.
The Long-nosed Snake feeds on small rodents, lizards and lizard eggs, small snakes, and occasional insects. In Kansas, both Miller (1987) and Gubanyi (1992) recorded this snake eating Six-lined Racerunners.
Predators of this species include large birds, mammals, and other snakes (Collins, 1993).

Occurrence Activity:
Number of Unique Obervations (=days): 83; Range: 02 Mar to 02 Nov
Remarks:
First reported from Kansas by Cragin (1885: mentioned; 1886: detailed), based on a specimen found by Chancy Smith in a Medicine Lodge garden in the summer of 1885. The earliest existing specimen (KU 2334) was collected in Clark County in July of 1905 (no other associated data).
Miller (1987) studied this snake in southwest Kansas, contributing several new localities and habitat observations. This species is known from sporadic records throughout southwestern Kansas.
A single specimen of this species has been found along the Smoky-Hill River corridor in Logan County, (Taggart and Schmidt, 2002) and is in need of corroboration.
Like many other reptiles along the southwest border of Kansas, there are no easily identifiable environmental threats. Their rarity undoubtedly is a function of our ineptness at turning them up and thus is more perceived than real.
This taxon prefers fine loose Quaternary soils of alluvium, dune sand, and loess, but is also well-represented from the rockier soils throughout the Permian Nippewalla Group. Most records come from areas of sand sagebrush, and it is infrequently encountered outside of this habitat. Its fossorial habits typically preclude its discovery, and most observations occur as specimens are intercepted attempting to cross roadways at night under a new moon on hot summer nights. This record is corroborated by sympatric isolated populations of Glossy Snakes and Chihuahuan Green Toads
Burt (1935) reported a specimen collected in the sand sagebrush plains 3 miles north of Elkhart, Morton County, Kansas, on 27 May 1934.
Cope (1990) remarked that a specimen obtained by Francis Cragin at Garden City was notable in having the loreal plate entering the orbit below the preocular.
Platt et al. (1974) recommended establishment of a natural prairie area within the range of this snake in Kansas. The Long-nosed Snake was listed as a Kansas Threatened species in 1987 and downlisted to SINC in 2015.
Based on a captive specimen, Snider and Bowler (1992) reported a maximum longevity for this species of nineteen years, ten months, and 22 days.

Bibliography:
1853 Baird, Spencer F. and Charles Girard. Catalogue of North American Reptiles in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Part 1. Serpents. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 2(5):xvi + 172
Contains the original descriptions of Crotalus atrox, Lampropeltis gentilis, Pantherophis emoryi, Rhinocheilus lecontei, Tantilla gracilis, Regina grahamii, Thamnophis elegans, Thamnophis marcianus, Thamnophis radix, and Virginia valeriae.
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Miscellaneous notes. Bulletin of the Washburn Laboratory of Natural History 1(4):147-148
Mention of a Rhinocheilus lencontei from Barber County that was examined by E. D. Cope as he passed through. First report for the species in Kansas.
1886 Cragin, Francis W. Note on a new variety of a Sonoran serpent from Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 10():85-86
Second mention of the first specimen Rhinocheilus lecontei reported from Kansas. The first mention was Cragin, Francis W., 1885. Miscellaneous notes. Bulletin of the Washburn Laboratory of Natural History 1(4):147-148.
1900 Cope, Edward D. The crocodilians, lizards and snakes of North America. Pages 153-1270 in Report of the U. S. National Museum for the Year Ending June 30, 1898 , Washington, D. C. pp.
1901 Brown, Arthur Erwin. A review of the genera and species of American snakes, north of Mexico. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 53(1):10-110
1904 Branson, Edwin B. Snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 2(13):353-430
1907 Ditmars, Raymond L. The Reptile Book; A comprehensive, Popularised Work on the Structure and Habits of the Turtles, Tortoises, Crocodilians, Lizards and Snakes which Inhabit the United States and Northern Mexico. Doubleday, Pae, and Company, New York. 472pp.
Several references to Kansas in the distribution of specific species accounts.
1929 Taylor, Edward H. A revised checklist of the snakes of Kansas. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 19(5):53-62
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1936 Brumwell, Malcolm J. Distributional records of the reptilia and amphibians of Kansas. Privately printed, . 22pp.
County dot maps of the Kansas herpetofauna. This work has been attributed to have been written around 1933, but that may be in error. 
Hypsiglena jani was not known from Kansas until Claude W. Hibbard collected three specimens on the Stevenson Ranch in north-central Clark County (above Clark State Lake) during June 1936 (Hibbard, 1937). Brumwell plotted this locality, which leads me to believe that the 1936 would have been the earliest date this manuscript could have been written.
1939 Tihen, Joseph A. and James M. Sprague. Amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Meade County State Park Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 42():499-512
1941 Schmidt, Karl Peterson and D. D. Davis. Field Book of Snakes of the United States and Canada. C.P. Putnam and Sons, New York. 365pp.
1941 Klauber, Laurence M. The long-nosed snakes of the genus Rhinocheilus. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 9(29):289-332
1950 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication (2):336
The first modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table and text say 97 on p. 10) and 13 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies.
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
Schmidt's first edition of his standardized checklist to North American amphibians and reptiles. Includes several specific references to Kansas in the range descriptions.
1956 Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kansas. Second edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication (9):1-356
Hobart M. Smith's updated second edition of his first (1950) modern herpetology of Kansas. Includes locality dot maps within individual species accounts. Reports 96 species from Kansas (table says 97 on p. 10; text says 98 on p. 10) and 11 "probable but unverified" species and subspecies. The second edition has updated taxonomy, added Plestiodon laticeps, and removed Eurycea tynerensis.
1967 Brattstrom, Bayard H. A succession of Pliocene and Pleistocene snake fauna from the High Plains of the United States. Copeia 1967(1):188-202
An examination (or in many cases, a re-examination) of 11,000 accumulated skeletal elements from fossil deposits collected at various sites and ranging in age from Lower Pliocene to the Recent.
1974 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (1):283 pp
Joseph T. Collins first Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Smith 1956)>
1974 Platt, Dwight R., Joseph T. Collins, and Ray E. Ashton, Jr. Rare, endangered and extirpated species in Kansas. II. Amphibians and reptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 76(3):185-192
The initial initiative to determine population and conservation status of Kansas' amphibians and reptiles based on our understanding at the time. A lot has changed regarding our increased knowledge on all the listed species.
1975 Lardie, Richard L. Three new herpetological records for Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (5):6
1975 Medica, Philip A. Rhinocheilus, R. lecontei. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (175):1-4
1976 Rundquist, Eric M. Field checklist (of) amphibians and reptiles of Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society, Lawrence. pp.
1976 Ashton, Ray E., Jr., Stephen R. Edwards, and George R. Pisani. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles in the United States. Herpetological Circulars (5):65
1976 Rickart, Eric A. A new horned lizard (Phrynosoma adinognathus) from the early Pleistocene of Meade County, Kansas, with comments on the herpetofauna of the Borchers locality. Herpetologica 32(1):64-67
Contains the original description of Phrynosoma adinognathus.
1977 Perry, Janice. Kansas herps needed. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (18):2-3
List of Kansas amphibians and reptiles desired for the SSAR/HL meeting to be held 7-13 August 1977.
1979 Ports, Mark A. Occurrence and density studies of nongame wildlife in southwestern Kansas - May 16-August 16, 1979. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt, Kansas. 83pp.
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
A summary of known information on the amphibian, reptile, and fish faunas of the Arkansas River above Great Bend. The report details associated field activities for procuring fish, however no new surveys for amphibians and reptiles were undertaken. Information on herps from Finney County was provided by Michael Rush (FHSU) and thus made available before the publication of his thesis (Rush, 1981). The western Arkansas River drainage had experienced little attention by herpetologists before this study, and the species accounts reflect that paucity of data. Additionally, the report omits several older records (e.g. for Anaxyrus debilisThamnophis cyrtopsis, and Lampropeltis calligaster) from the westernmost reaches of the Arkansas River drainage in Kansas.
1980 Medica, Philip A. Locality records of Rhinocheilus lecontei in the United States and Mexico. Herpetological Review 11(2):42
1982 Collins, Joseph T. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. 2nd edition. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Public Education Series (8):
Joseph T. Collins second Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1974)>
1983 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in Kansas for 1982 . Technical Publication of the State Biological Survey of Kansas 13():9-21
1984 Secor, Stephen M. and Charles C. Carpenter. Distribution maps of Oklahoma reptiles. Oklahoma Herpetological Society Special Publication (3):1-57
1984 Collins, Joseph T. New records of fishes, amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1984. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (58):14-20
1986 Layher, William G., Ken L. Brunson, J.Schaefer, Marvin D. Schwilling, and R. D. Wood. Summary of nongame task force actions relative to developing three species lists: Species in Need of Conservation, Threatened, and Endangered. Kansas Fish and Game Commission, Pratt. 27pp.
1986 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1985. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (63):4
1987 Miller, Larry L. An investigation of four rare snakes in south-central Kansas. Final Report. Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission, Pratt. 24pp.
1988 Busby, William H. The Kansas Natural Heritage Program: Taking stock of Kansas' natural heritage. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (71):9-12
1988 Nulton, Michael T. and Michael S. Rush. New county records of amphibians and reptiles in Gray County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (74):10-12
1989 Simmons, John E. Endangered and threatened in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):4-5
1989 Capron, Marty B. Threatened and endangered: A critique of the Kansas list. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (76):14-15
1990 Collins, Joseph T. Maximum size records for Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (81):13-17
1991 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1991 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cimarron National Grasslands, Morton County, Kansas. U. S. Forest Service, Elkhart, Kansas. 60pp.
1992 Ball, Robert L. High plains serpents: Results of a long-term study in Texas County, Oklahoma and Morton County, Kansas Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):16-17
1992 Gubanyi, James E. An observation on the stomach contents of a Texas Longnose Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus). Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (89):17
1993 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Lawrence. 397pp.
Joseph T. Collins third Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1982)>
1993 Fitch, Henry S. Relative abundance of snakes in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 96(3/4):213-224
1996 Rakestraw, J. Spring herp counts: A Kansas tradition. Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (March-April):75-80
1997 Rundquist, Eric M. Results of the ninth annual KHS herp counts held 1 April-31 May 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (108):12-17
1998 Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. pp.
1998 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 131pp.
1999 Rundquist, Eric M. Kansas Herpetological Society herp counts: A 10 year summary and evaluation. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (115):42962
1999 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1998. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (116):14-15
1999 Rodriguez-Robles, Javier A., Christopher J. Bell, and Harry W. Greene. Food habits of the glossy snake, Arizona elegans, with comparisons to the diet of sympatric long-nosed snakes, Rhinochelius lecontei. Journal of Herpetology 33(1):87-92
1999 Rodriguez-Robles, Javier A. and Harry W. Greene. Food habits of the Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei), a 'specialist' predator?. Journal of the Zoological Society of London 1999(248):489-499
2002 Kingsbury, Bruce and Joanna Gibson. Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest. Publication of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Address not given. 152pp.
2002 Taggart, Travis W., Curtis J. Schmidt, and Joseph T. Collins. Range extension of the Texas Longnose Snake in western Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (1):8
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the spring 2002 KHS field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (3):6-7
To the Cimarron National Grassland, in Morton and Stevens counties.
2003 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2002. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (5):13-16
2004 Schmidt, Curtis J. Natural history and status of the exploited Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in western Kansas and a herpetofaunal inventory of the Smoky Valley Ranch, Logan County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. pp.
2004 Taggart, Travis W. Kansas Herpetological Society 2004 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (9):2
2004 Manier, Mollie K. Geographic variation in the Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei (Colubridae): Beyond the subspecies debate Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 83(1):65-85
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Addendum report to biological inventory of the sandsage prairie near Holcomb, Kansas. Sunflower Electric Cooperative, Hays, Kansas. 31pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W., Joseph T. Collins, and Curtis J. Schmidt. Estimates of amphibian, reptile, and turtle mortality if Phostoxin is applied to 10,000 acres of prairie dog burrows in Logan County, Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 5pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W. A biological inventory of the Sunflower Electric Site near Holcomb, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 23():11-16
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
Joseph T. Collins fourth Kansas herpetology. <Need to get species total and principal differences with previous 'version' (= Collins 1993)>
2011 Taggart, Travis W. and Daniel Murrow. KHS to conduct summer field trip to western Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (38):5
2011 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the Kansas Herpetological Society 2011 Summer Field Trip to Scott State Park Journal of Kansas Herpetology (39):2
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2012 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada: Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 152pp.
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2012 Summer Field Trip to Meade County State Park. Collinsorum 2(3/4):3
2013 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2013 Summer Field Trip to Coldwater Lake, Comanche County. Collinsorum 2(3/4):5
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS Spring Field Trip to Barber County Collinsorum 3(2-4):11
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the 2014 KHS summer field trip to Morton County and adjacent Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Collinsorum 3(2-4):12
2014 Taggart, Travis W. Recent scientific and standard English name changes effecting the Kansas herpetofauna. Collinsorum 3(2-4):9-10
2015 Rohweder, Megan R. Kansas Wildlife Action Plan. Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in cooperation with the Kansas Biological Survey. 176pp.
2016 Powell, Robert, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. 494pp.
2016 Taggart, Travis W. Spring 2016 KHS field trip to Clark County was a soggy success. Collinsorum 5(2-3):2-3
2016 Myers, Edward A., Michael J. Hickerson, and Frank T. Burbrink. Asynchronous diversification of snakes in the North American warm deserts. Journal of Biogeography 44(2):1-14
2017 Crother, Brian I. (editor) Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding. Eighth edition. Herpetological Circulars (43):1-102
2018 Dahn, Hollis A., Jason L. Strickland, Alejandra Osorio, Timothy J. Colston, and Christopher L. Parkinson. Hidden diversity within the depauperate genera of the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes, Colubridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 129():214-225
2019 Powell, Robert, Joseph T Collins, and Errol D Hooper Jr. Key to the Herpetofauna of the Continental United States and Canada. Third Edition. Univ Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 192pp.
2019 Myers, Edward A., Alexander T. Xue, Marcelo Gehara, Christian Cox, Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Julio Lemos‐Espinal, Juan E. Martínez‐Gómez, and Frank T. Burbrink. Environmental heterogeneity and not vicariant biogeographic barriers generate community‐wide population structure in desert‐adapted snakes. Molecular Ecology 28(20):4535-4548
2020 Riedle, J. Daren. Revisiting Kansas Herpetological Society field trip and Herp Count data: Distributional patterns and trend data of Kansas amphibians and reptiles. Collinsorum 9(1):7-16
2021 Locklear, James H. The Sandsage Prairie ecological system: Biodiversity hotspot for the Great Plains. Natural Areas Journal 41(1):64-74
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Travis W. Taggart © 1999-2024 — w/ Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University