Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by William Bosworth
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The range of the nightsnake, Hypsiglena torquata, includes most of Mexico and much of the western (especially the southwestern) United States. In Utah, nightsnakes are relatively common in the state's desert regions. Within its range, this species inhabits arid and semi-arid desert flats, plains, and woodlands; areas with rocky and sandy soils are preferred. During cold times of the year, nightsnakes seek refuge underground, in crevices, or under rocks, and become inactive.

Female nightsnakes lay a single clutch of two to nine eggs during late spring or summer. The diet of the nightsnake consists primarily of lizards and lizard eggs, although snakes, frogs, insects, and salamanders are also consumed. Nightsnakes subdue their prey with venom injected by large teeth at the back of the upper jaw.

Nightsnakes are pale gray or light brown in color, often with dark blotches on the back of the neck and dark spots on the back and sides.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 336 pp.