Night Snake

The night snake is a rear-fanged colubrid that is both nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). The small, secretive snake is generally a solitary species.

Scientific Classifications

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild




Night Snake Image


The snake’s total length is 12-26 in (30-66 cm). The females are heavier and longer than the males.

Color and Appearance

The ground color of the body is pale gray, beige, or light brown, overlaid with brown or dark gray blotches on the sides and back. There is usually a pair of dark brown blotches on the neck that look like a collar. Hence, its specific name ‘torquata’,meaning collar or neck chain. The head is triangular and rather flat. The pupils are vertical, and the belly is yellowish or white. A dark brown or black bar behind the eyes contrasts against the pale gray or white upper labial scales.

Are They Dangerous to Humans 

The night snake is slightly venomous but poses no threat to humans. It uses its venom only to subdue its prey. Still, a snake bite needs prompt medical attention and care. When threatened, it may coil up and thrust its coils at its attacker while flattening its head into a defensive, triangular shape.

As pets, they are docile and easily handled.

Night Snakes at a Glance


It ranges from British Columbia, Canada, through the western US to Mexico.

Hypsiglena torquata


It can be found in different types of habitats, including deserts, grasslands, sagebrush flats, woodlands, chaparral, thorn forest, thorn scrub, and mountain meadows. It lives in both sandy and rocky areas and elevations of over 8500ft (2600 m). It also inhabits mammal burrows.

They can be seen at night crossing roads. But they can be found hidden under boards, rocks, dead branches, and other surface litter during the day. They hibernate in winter and aestivate during periods of summer. They are most active from April to October, with their activity usually peaking in June.

Night Snake Picture


They have been known to live more than 12 years in captivity. But their lifespan in the wild is unknown.


Owls, red-tailed hawks, nocturnal mammals and other snakes consume the colubrid.


The night snake mainly preys on lizards (mostly side-blotched lizards and their eggs, according to a study in Idaho). They also take frogs, salamanders, large insects, juvenile blind snakes, and rattlesnakes.


Oviparous (lays eggs that hatch outside the body)

After mating in spring, a female lays a clutch of 2-9 eggs from April to August. They hatch in 7-8 weeks, usually in late summer.



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