Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis)



  • BC: Red – S1S2 (20180
  • COSEWIC: Endangered
  • SARA: Endangered (2003)
  • Global: Secure (2016)
  • Galiano Island Status: Unconfirmed


The sharp-tailed snake is a very small dark-brown and red reptile that is often confused with garter snakes. One of their more interesting traits is teeth perfectly designed for swallowing slippery slugs. They hibernate in the winter months from November to February and are most active during moist conditions of early spring and fall. During summer months they stay clear of the heat by hiding underground and are very seldom spotted.


Very elusive, this species typically lives on south-facing rocky slopes and small openings in Douglas-fir/arbutus forests and is generally found under logs, rocks, fallen branches, or other cover in oak woodlands and meadows.


They range from southern British Columbia to southern California


Habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation and road mortality from expanding urbanization such as housing developments and road building are the main threats. The Sharp-tailed snake is associated with old-growth forests of the Coastal Douglas-fir zone, of which only 0.5 percent is left.

Galiano Status

This species was observed on the south end of Galiano Island in 1981, but has not been observed since.  There may be populations in suitable habitat on the island which have not yet been detected.

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