CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California







Aberrant Snakes

(Found in the Wild)
 










observation link

 


These are pictures of snakes shown on this web site that do not fit the "normal" description of the species, differing from the norm in color, pattern, or other physical charateristics. They do not represent all types of aberrant snakes, only those for which I have pictures.

Breeding new "designer" morphs of aberrant snakes to sell them in the pet trade is common. A few of these snakes are non-native snakes that were also designer pets that were released into the wild (the Corn Snakes) but all of the others are aberrant native species that were found in the wild.
       
Miscellaneous Families of Snakes
Rosy Boa Rosy Boa California Lyresnake
Adult Rosy Boa, coastal San Diego County © Eleanor Breslin.
This individual appears to be melanistic, lacking all pigment except black.
Adult California Lyresnake, Pisgah, San Bernardino County © John Buckman
This is the striped form of lyre snake mentioned by Robert Stebbins his 2003 field guide information about the Western Lyre Snake: "Dark individuals that tend to have a middorsal stripe of light brown have been found at the Pisgah lava flow in the Mojave Desert, Calif."
Northern Rubber Boa Northern Rubber Boa Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake
Adult Northern Rubber Boa with unusual dark markings, Santa Cruz County
© Jared Heald
This aberrantly-patterned Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake was found in Imperial County. The dark saddles normally present on the dorsal surface are extended lengthwise almost into stripes.
© Stuart Young
California Nightsnake Long-nosed Snake California Lyresnake California Lyresnake
This dark, high contrast adult California Nightsnake was found in Santa Cruz County © Jared Heald This adult Long-nosed Snake found in Inyo County lacks the red that is usually found on this species, and has a much lower band count than is normal with few of the white markings that are typically found on the dark bands. © Ryan Sikola Anerythristic adult California Lyresnake, Inyo County © Ryan Sikola
       
Non-native Aberrant Pet Snakes Found in the Wild in California
snake snake Coast Mountain Kingsnake  
Albino Corn Snakes are popular pets that come in a variety of colors and patterns. This one was found in San Mateo County © Bob Peterson This is the less-common striped variety of albino Corn Snake. It was found under some back yard bricks in San Diego County. © Alberto Galindo This albino designer Corn Snake was found under a bush in Placer County.
© James Heirigs
 
       
Kingsnakes - Genus Lampropeltis
San Diego Mountain Kingsnake   San Diego Mountain Kingsnake   San Diego Mountain Kingsnake
Aberrant juvenile Coast Mountain Kingsnake, with bands that have almost turned into spots, San Diego County
San Diego Mountain Kingsnake   Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Sierra Mountain Kingsnake Sierra Mountain Kingsnake
Underside of aberrant juvenile
Coast Mountain Kingsnake
,
San Diego County
Axanthic adult California Mountain Kingsnake, lacking all red coloring, El Dorado County. Specimen Courtesy of Tim Burkhardt © 2002 Brad Alexander This California Mountain Kingsnake from Plumas County has little red coloring,
with only a few complete red bands. © Timothy Boomer
California Kingsnake California Kingsnake    
There are so many naturally-ocurring aberrant morphs of California Kingsnakes that I have an entire page dedicated to them.    
       
Rattlesnakes - Genus Crotalus
 
Crotalus oreganus oreganus - Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
This unusually-patterned Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from coastal dunes in San Luis Obispo County has a mostly patternless body with a pale dorsal stripe (similar to a garter snake) and the usual rings around the tail. © Kevin Crouch Leucistic juvenile Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Santa Clara County
© Neil Keung
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
Adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from the Humboldt/Mendocino County line with a nearly-patternless front and a normal rear. © Tony Chasar This adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from Santa Cruz County
is nearly patternless. © Spencer Riffle
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
Very dark adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from western Kern County
© Mike Waters
A patternless green adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from Santa Cruz County
© Ben Witzke
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
Low-contrast pattern reddish adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake found at 8,280 feet elevation, Tulare County.
© Ken D. Wiley
Low-contrast pattern reddish adult, Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Tulare County © Zachary Lemon Low-contrast pattern reddish adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake,
Kern Plateau, Kern County
© Sam Wilson
Adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, San Mateo County, ready to shed - showing very little contrast in its pattern.
© Melissa Amarello
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake
This juvenile Northern Pacific Rattlesnake rattlesnake with a very wide dorsal stripe and not a trace of a pattern or banding on the tail was found shot, killed, and decapitated in the San Antonio Valley in southern Monterey County. (Some of the gore has been censored in one of the enlarged versions.)   © Patricia Woodfill Oddly-patterned juvenile Northern Pacific Rattlesnake from western Kern County © Mike Waters

Very light-colored adult Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Stanislaus County
© Adam Gitmed
northern pacific rattlesnake      
The pattern on this unusual juvenile Northern Pacific Rattlesnakephotographed in Alameda County is very faint. It might be missing its black pigment. © Yuval Helfman      
       
Crotalus oreganus helleri - Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake
Melanistic patternless Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Riverside County.
© Tony Covell
Firefighter paramedic Chris Sperber and firefighter specialist Daniel Craig were called out to Newhall in Los Angeles County at midnight to help someone deal with a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake that was found in a bathroom next to a pool. This beautiful patternless and dark striped rattlesnake is what they found and caught. The snake was killed, following LA County Fire Departent policy, which explains why the head is missing. Photos © Ray Ortiz LACoFD.
southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake
Pale juvenile Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Orange County
© Steve Bledsoe
Melanistic adult Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Ventura County
© Patrick Briggs
Hypomelanistic adult Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, San Diego County.
© Bryce Anderson
southern pacific rattlesnake      
This unusual neonate Southern Pacific Rattlesnake has stripes instead of blotches. San Diego County.
© Eric Quinn
     
       
Crotalus cerastes - Sidewinder
Mohave Desert Sidewinder Mohave Desert Sidewinder California Lyresnake  
This unusually striped adult Mohave Desert Sidewinder was found in Kern County
© Dallas Jolly
Partly-striped gravid female Mohave Desert Sidewinder, Kern County
© Adam Gitmed
 
       
Northern Mohave Rattlesnake - Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus
Northern Mohave Rattlesnake   Northern Mohave Rattlesnake   Northern Mohave Rattlesnake    
Albino adult Northern Mohave Rattlesnake, Kern County
© Brad Alexander
Pale adult Northern Mohave Rattlesnake, possibly amelanistic,
Los Angeles County © Chris DeGroof
 
       
Gartersnakes - Genus Thamnophis
Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake
Melanistic adult Valley Gartersnake, Yolo County © Richard Porter
Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake
This very unusually-colored aberrant Valley Gartersnake was found in the Sacramento Valley in Sutter County, CA in May, 2017, and other snakes with similar coloring were seen in the same general field location, including the snake seen in photos below left.

U.S. Geological Survey photos taken by Alexandria M. Fulton.
(A Natural History Note about this snake was published in June, 2018: Herpetological Review 49(2), 2018.)

Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake Valley Gartersnake
This aberrant Valley Gartersnake was photographed in 2016 in the Sacramento Valley in Sutter County, CA approx.1.5 km from the location where the snake seen above was found.

U.S. Geological Survey photos taken by Chris Garbark.
This unusually-colored adult Valley Gartersnake was found eating a California Toad in Upper Lake, Lake County. Possibly axanthic (missing red pigment) it might also represent an intergrade with T. s. infernalis, which sometimes has blue coloring.
© Yuri Brezinger
Oregon Gartersnake Oregon Gartersnake Oregon Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake
Adult Oregon Gartersnake without the characteristic dorsal stripe, Del Norte County © Alan Barron
This Humboldt County adult Oregon Gartersnake is nearly sripeless and patternless. © Spencer Riffle Melanistic adult Two-striped Gartersnake
San Luis Obispo County © Ryan Sikola
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake
Melanistic adult Two-striped Gartersnake, San Luis Obispo County
© Katie Drexhage
Very dark, possibly melanistic Two-striped Gartersnake, Monterey County
© Harry Moffett
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake
This unusually-pigmented spotted morph Two-striped Gartersnake was found in Riverside County. It's not an albino, because the eyes are dark, but it is missing some of its normal dark pigment. © ELMT Consulting, Inc. Travis J. McGill Atypical spotted morph adult Two-striped Gartersnake from Los Angeles County © Chris DeGroof
Two-striped Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake
A very dark adult Two-striped Gartersnake from the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County © Kyle Watson This melanistic adult Two-striped Gartersnake was observed in San Luis Obispo County. © Ryan Sikola Albino adult Wandering Gartersnake
© Patrick Briggs
Amelanistic adult Wandering Gartersnake, Bannock County, Idaho
© Patrick Briggs
Northwestern Gartersnake Northwestern Gartersnake Two-striped Gartersnake  
Melanistic blue-striped adult Northwestern Gartersnake from
King County, Washington © Filip Tkaczyk
Adult, Santa Barbara County
© Ryan Sikola

This snake is an unusual hybrid of a Diablo Range Gartersnake, Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus, and a Two-striped Gartersnake, Thamnophis hammondii.
 
       
Gophersnakes - Genus Pituophis
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake Pacific Gopher Snake Hybrid
Albino adult San Diego Gophersnake, San Diego County. © Richard E. Brewer This strange looking snake is probably a cross between a California Kingsnake and a Pacific Gophersnake. It was found in the wild in Yolo County by Steven Hinds. Photo © 2005 Brian Hubbs
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake
White-sided adult San Diego Gophersnake, San Bernardino County © Matt Sjostrom Adult San Diego Gophersnake with an orange stripe and yellow dots on its back from the Santa Monica Mountains, Ventura County. © Max Roberts
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake Pacific Gopher Snake
This juvenile San Diego Gophersnake with two heads was found in the wild near the Santa Ana mountains in Riverside County.
Two-headed snakes are rare, but they show up occasionally in the wild and with captive breeding.
An adult  Pacific Gophersnake which is missing black pigment and might be albino. Placer County
© Terrence Howe
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake
Patternless striped adult San Diego Gophersnake, Los Angeles County
© 2006 John Michels
This San Diego Gophersnake from San Diego County has a partial dorsal stripe
© Ivan Vershynin
San Diego Gopher Snake San Diego Gopher Snake Albino Gopher Snake Albino Gopher Snake
This San Diego Gophersnake with a dorsal stripe on much of its body was found a half a mile or more from the similar snake to the left in Ventura County.
© Max Roberts
Albino adult Pacific Gophersnake, Solano County © Lou Silva
Great Basin Gopher Snake Great Basin Gopher Snake  
This patternless striped adult Great Basin Gophersnake was found dead in Morongo Valley in San Bernardino County.
© Adya Black
 
Pacific Gopher Snake Pacific Gopher Snake    
Striped Pacific Gophersnakes are sometimes found in Solano and Napa Counties.
Follow this link to see more examples.
   
       
Shovel-nosed Snakes - Genus Chionactis
Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
Dark adult with no yellow or red coloring, San Bernardino County, from dark lava field habitat © Ryan Sikola Top: a typically-colored adult
Bottom: a dark adult with no yellow or red coloring. Both were found at the same San Bernardino lava field location © Ryan Sikola
Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
© Kenny Elliott This ususually colorless Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake was observed in a black lava field in San Bernardino County. Some snakes and lizards in areas with dark lava have developed dark coloring to better blend in with the environment, but this snake is partly white, so I suspect it is missing the red and yellow pigments normally found on this species. This black and white Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake was found in Riverside County © Brian Hinds Mohave Shovel-nosed Snakes:
Top: anerythristic adult
Bottom: normally-pigmented sub-adult
Riverside County © Brody Trent
Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
Anerythristic adult
Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake
,
Riverside County © Brody Trent
Black and white phase adult Mohave Shovel-nosed Snake from Riverside County  © Gregory Litiatco
       
Sharp-tailed Snakes - Genus contia
Sharp-tailed Snake Sharp-tailed Snake Sharp-tailed Snake Sharp-tailed Snake
Unusually-colored juvenile Common Sharp-tailed Snake from Butte County, probably hypomelanistic or amelanistic.   © Jackson Shedd These two hypomelanistic juvenile Common Sharp-tailed Snakes with red eyes were found in Butte County.
© Mike Thiede & Jon Thiede
       
Ring-necked Snakes - Genus Diadophis
Pacific Ring-necked Snake Pacific Ring-necked Snake Pacific Ring-necked Snake Pacific Ring-necked Snake
This Santa Clara County juvenile Pacific Ring-necked Snake snake is melanistic, lacking its normal colors while having an abnormal amount of dark pigment. It appears to be a ring-necked snake, however when color and pattern are removed and only a few pictures are available, small colubrid snakes such as this one are difficult to differentiate from other similar species found in the same area. The competition in this case is the Western Black-headed Snake and the Common Sharp-tailed Snake. We ruled out the sharp-tailed snake because of the tail length, and the black-headed snake because of the way the tail is coiled. © Nathan Hickson This melanistic Pacific Ring-necked Snake was found in Santa Clara County. Four slightly-orange scales are visible on the neck where the ring would be.
© Faris K
Pacific Ring-necked Snake Pacific Ring-necked Snake Pacific Ring-necked Snake  
Unusually-colored Pacific Ring-necked Snake from Sonoma county that lacks the typical red or yellow underside. © Richard Porter
This Pacific Ring-necked Snake found in Alameda County has an unusual underside that is orange and yellow like a ring-necked snake, but with black bars like a sharp-tailed snake. © Faris K  
       
Glossy Snakes - Genus Arizona
California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake California Glossy Snake  
Striped adult intergrade Glossy Snake
© Ross Padilla
Striped juvenile intergrade Glossy Snake © Stuart Young  
       
Ground Snakes - Genus Sonora
Variable Groundsnake Variable Groundsnake    
Variable Groundsnake found in Inyo County © Mardee
This snake is missing black pigment. Another groundsnake with more typical coloring - darker orange bands on a darker background - was found in the same area.
 
       

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