Long-nosed Snake Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Long-nosed Snake
Scientific Name:Rhinocheilus leconte
Life Span:12 to 20 Years
Size:22 to 36 inches
Habitat:Desert and dry prairies
Country of Origin:The western desert of America



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The Long-Nosed Snake is relative to the king snakes. These snakes are almost unknown to people. Long-nosed are totally harmless. They rarely or never bite. They tend to poop on the handler’s hand or even excrete blood from their cloaca to say don’t eat me. They live on the ground. 

These snakes are nocturnal but can be seen active in some conditions. They move from hole to another hole in the soils of the desert. They get up to 3 inches long. They are just some of the snakes that can adapt well to areas that are highly developed and far from the natural area of desert. 

They are brightly colored and not so common in captivity. It is attractive for its appearance, extreme hardiness, and manageable size. This species can be found in California, Kansas, to central Mexico. They are found in desert fringes, prairies, overgrown fields, scrub, and the like. Although it has a wide range, it is seen not so often because of its subterranean lifestyle. It is nocturnal and hides in the burrows of pocket gophers from other animals.

Physical Description

This long-nosed snake is a little long, having about 1520 millimeters long, but generally, most are just 900 millimeters long. This snake has a slender body having an enlarged rostral scale, and its anal plate is undivided. Their subcaudals are undivided, and their dorsal scales are in 23 to 25 rows in the middle of their body. Their color pattern varies. It has a narrow head, while its lower jaw is countersunk. Its snout is pointed. Its scales are shiny and smooth. It has got round pupils while the irises are orange and red. 

Markings in the body are highly varied but usually have black saddles having cream and white surroundings or yellow interspaces, which may or may not have pinkish-red suffusions. Some snakes have one of the two patterns morphs. These morphs are clarus morph or the lecontei morph.


• Western Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei lecontei 

• Mexican Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei antonii 

• Isla Cerralvo Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei etheridgei 

• Texas Long-nosed Snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus

Life Cycle Long-Nosed Snake


When the male and female mates, the female keeps the sperms in her oviduct for 1 to 2 months, so then the female produces eggs and released after getting fertilized by sperm in the kept in the oviduct. Eggs are laid in holes. 

Young Snakes

The young snakes come out by biting the egg’s cover using their teeth.  They get nutrition from egg yolk. They are fed on rodents or small reptiles. 

Adult Snakes

They turn adult in 2 to 4 years. Adults shed once a year or two times each year.


Rhinocheilus lecontei is distributed in the USA, particularly in the western deserts, including some parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas and extended to some parts of northern Mexico.


These snakes are commonly found in deserts, grasslands, coastal chaparrals, and arid bushlands.  They are seen crossing the roads in the warm summer night. They aren’t expected to live in forested types.


Long-nosed snakes are carnivorous. They prey on lizards, reptile’s egg, rodents, rats, insects, and so on. In captivity, they do well on a diet having mice, but it has to be scented with a lizard for all hatchlings and adults.  At times, they tend to be picky about their food. they even refuse at times. The best way is to experiment. Feed your snake 1 food not larger than 1.5 times the width of their body’s thickest part every 5 to 7 days. Don’t give them large food as it can be a reason for them to regurgitate. 

How to Feed Your Snake?

Choose the right food. 

Buy rats or mice. Snakes in the wild eat the same. These meet the nutritional needs of the snake. Rat and mice would make your snake happy and healthy. If you just feed one snake, buy rats or mice from pet stores. Make sure the mice you will buy are not fed with chemicals. Get them only from the trusted company. If you have a lot of snakes, it would be better to breed mice for your snake’s food. Always give rodents to them. Never give a live cricket. The cricket’s scale can harm your snake. 

Choose between a live or frozen food

In the market, there are a lot of food options for your snake. Some owners buy lice rats or mice or buy frozen ones that are served thawed and ram. It is a viable, safer, and convenient way. Choose which way works for the needs of your pet. 

Choosing live mice needs accurate replication of your pet’s feeding habits in the wild. It also needs some effort. You will need to run to the store every day or breed your own. If your snake doesn’t want to eat it, you have to take it out and try again later. On the other side, thawed mice are safer and convenient. However, naturally, that’s not how they eat in the wild, so it will need some time for them to get used to this way. Despite that, the good thing is your snake will not get harmed by their prey in case the prey fights back because it is already dead. 

Get the right size of food for your snake. 

Your baby and small snakes should ea smaller prey, but as they get bigger, give them bigger prey too. Remember giving them too large prey is hard for your snake’s digestion. The rule is to give food that has the same circumference as your snake’s largest body part. Here are the mice and rat sizes.

  • Pinkies. These are the baby mice. They have no fur yet. These are best for baby and small adult snakes. 
  • Fuzzies. These are still baby mice, but they are starting to grow fur. They are larger and do best for large baby snakes.
  • Hoppers. These are adult mice. Good for adult snakes. 
  • Rat pups and full-sized rats. These are the biggest for large snakes. 
  • Provide water as well. 

Always leave a large bowl with water. it is for your snake to submerge and drink sometimes. Clean your water bowl and disinfect it. 

Methods of Feeding

1. Prepare the food. Note: Live food needs not much preparation so long as it is clean. For the frozen, thaw and heat it. This is the thawing process. Don’t use a microwave to avoid an explosion. Check often to ensure the food is thawed well. Snakes will not eat it if the temperature does not mimic the live food.

  • Lay the frozen food on a paper towel. 
  • Set it near the fan.
  • Put it inside a plastic bag. Submerge it in warm water for 10 minutes.
  • Thaw only what you need.

2. Give the food to your snake.  Learn your snake’s way. Some want their food in the cage while others want to see their food dangling and moving. Try both to see which works for your snake. If you put it in the cage, put the food on a plate or a shallow bowl. Keep it away from the bedding. When you choose to let it dangle, use forceps or tweezers. Don’t use your hand as the snake might bite you accidentally because of the smell of their food on your hand. Whatever method they choose, give them time, and know more about your snake. 

3. Remove the live prey promptly. If you give live prey, give 10 minutes for your snake to eat. Then remove it. Don’t leave your snake with the live. The live prey might scratch or bite your snake if it isn’t eaten. Put the prey back in its container. Try feeding again later. 

4. Create a feeding schedule based on age and size. Generally, baby snakes eat once a week, but when they get bigger, they have to be less fed. Remember not to do force-feeding. When the food isn’t eaten, take it away. Do regular intervals of feeding.

 How to Handle a Picky Eater:

1. Make sure their food is warm enough. Frozen and thawed should have the appropriate heat to mimic the live one. Snakes have receptors to sense heat from their prey, stimulating them to eat.

2. Do the braining technique. Puncture they prey’s brain to release a scent and make it more attractive to your snake.


  • Insert a scalpel or knife to the prey’s frontal lobe.
  • Insert a toothpick to draw the brain out.
  • Take the brain matter through the mouse’s nose.

3. Then, rub a lizard into the mouse. Get a dead lizard from a store and apply the scent to your mouse. This is a good start to feed your mouse. It can take some time. 

4. Another way is to change your feeder’s color and size. Try turning the light off. A nocturnal snake will like it, or have your prey dipped in chicken broth. 

Breeding and Reproduction


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Breeding in captivity stays infrequent because many aren’t aware yet of this snake’s potential. They start mating from April to May. Not all females breed every year. To stimulate breeding, 2 to 3 months of winter cooling period having 65 F and a basking spot of 80 degrees F are essential. Monitor the pairs carefully because bites can occur as caused by courtship. 

Egg-laying happens in June and July. Their clutch of an egg is 4 to 10. The females deposit their eggs in moist, loose and well-aerated type of soil. Abandoned burrows of other mammals are used as their nesting sites.  It should be incubated using moist vermiculite at 80 to 85 F in 60 to 90 days. The hatchling comes in 8 to 11 inches long.

Behavior and Temperament

Long-nosed snakes are secretive and shy types of snakes. They hide their heads and wave their tails when threatened. As they wave their tail, they release a blood-tinged musk. Females release blood from the nostrils, cloaca, and mouth as a form of defense. Nonetheless, they calm down immediately and get adapted to your gentle handling. They rarely bite when they are captured. 


These snakes don’t demand a lot for their housing. The adults can do fine in a 20 to 30 gallon as a terrarium. Aspen shavings or other similar substrates for burrowing. You can use the PVC pipe as their ideal shelter. Making use of a hide box is also acceptable. Keep the substrate dry, and the lid should be secured. Give an ambient temperature of 80 to 85 degrees F and a basking temperature of 90 degrees F.

Take the feces every day and clean their terrarium twice or four times a week. If you get your pet from the wild, let it be examined by a vet. If given the utmost care, they can live for 20 years. 

Sexing and Characteristics

These are colorful and very beautiful snakes. They come in small to medium size. They don’t get longer than 3 feet. Normally, they are banded or having black, white, or red blotched. Their belly is yellow, or cream is having dark spots on their sides. 

To know their sex is through probing. Don’t do this if you aren’t trained or a professional, as it can lead to death or injury. 


As the season changes, your snakes might show some changes in their habits. Prepare them for their hibernation. Hibernation starts in September until November. Your pet will send you signals. They voluntarily sleep a lot and don’t eat. 

Before undergoing this stage, they must be in good condition. Sick animals should go through this stage. Prepare by giving them about 14 days of heat and light after their last feeding. This will be for them to clear their bowels. During hibernation, digestion stops. if the food is stuck in their bowel, it will rot inside their body and kill your snake. Once the clearing is done, take the heat and light and put your pet in room temperature to be acclimated to a cooler temperature. 

The next step is to put them in a cold spot like your basement or laundry room. Move your snake to a place where their hibernation will not get interrupted. Choose a spot that isn’t too hot or too cold. Too much moist or dry air is inhaled would eventually lead to health problems.

Don’t feed them, but give them water. they will drink a lot during brumation. By the way, weighing your snake before hibernation is advised. If there is weight loss, soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Your snakes can determine when winter is over, and that means hibernation is done. Put your snake back to their regular enclosure. Turn on the heat and light and give them food. 

Substrate and Water Needs

These snakes do burrow in soft and movable substrate. You can use eco-earth or peat-moss. An alternative is a cage carpet. Put two layers down for your snake to burrow between the layers. Put water in a wide dish where they can soak or curl. Mist your substrate occasionally. 

Lighting and UVB

They just need a UVB lamp. 

Temperatures and Humidity

Set the temperature at 78 to 90 degrees F don’t go beyond 95 F. when it goes lower than 78, digestion and eating problems may arise and cause hibernation. Do light misting occasionally to give enough level of humidity to make your snake happy and healthy. 

Heating and Equipment

Put a heat lamp or use an under-tank heating pad. Never use rocks because it can cause your snake some injuries. 

Some Facts on this Species

  • They are not kept or sold commonly in the pet stores. For that reason, not so much is known about them. 
  • They are very gentle and easy to handle. Wild-caught can be tamed too. Handle them by gently wrapping or coiling them around your hand. 
  • They are excellent snakes for beginners in spite of being picky food eater. 
  • They are found in the entire southern United States. 

Common Health Problems

Anorexia or Lack of Appetite in Snakes

This problem is commonly seen among captive reptiles. It means there is something wrong with your snake. Deficiency in husbandry is seen as the cause of this symptom. Trauma from eating causes some snakes to refuse to eat. Other seen reasons are internal diseases. Severe pneumonia that leads to difficulty breathing will affect your snake’s appetite. Animals having liver or kidney problems have suppressed appetite. Don’t force your snake to eat. The main cause should be treated first for a total recovery. 

Vomiting/Regurgitation in Snakes

Vomiting means the food expelled coming from the lower gastrointestinal tract. That is below the stomach, while regurgitation is the food from above the stomach. The cause for this is management or husbandry problems, including handling your snake after eating and low environmental temperature.  Review your husbandry and make the necessary changes. 

Infectious Stomatitis or Mouth Rot in Snakes

“Mouth rot,” affects the gums and teeth. It is brought out by another condition. It happens when the snakes are stressed or are immunocompromised. In addition, snakes that are raised in poor husbandry is exposed to infectious stomatitis. An example is a rostral trauma. This is when the snake’s nose is rubbed on the cage. Your snake has to go through diagnosis and treatment to be given by a vet.

Pneumonia in Snakes

A sign is a discharge coming from the nose. This discharge can be related to pneumonia. If not treated, it could lead to death. Respiratory infections can happen in the nostrils or trachea or the lungs. They lack a diaphragm and cannot cough, so their lungs get filled with pus and result in difficulty in breathing. 

Respiratory problems root from poor management. They get stressed from it and can progress to other diseases. If there is no immune system that functions well, the body will not be able to defend itself from bacteria and other viruses causing diseases. 

The key to treat is humidity. Snakes cannot cope with too much water in their lungs, likewise when they are in excessive dryness. Without the mucus keeping moist in the lungs, and it gets dry, the infection can occur.

Apart from that, nutritional disease and other organisms can be a reason too. Pathogens are also opportunists. When your snake is stressed, and its immune system is being compromised, these pathogens are agents of disease. take your snake to your vet for a more detailed diagnosis and treatment.

Dysecdysis or Retained Eye Cap

Improper shedding or retaining eye cap is a symptom. Shedding occurs in a snake’s life. When shedding is done, the new cycle begins. This happens until snakes die. Shedding in a single piece signifies a healthy one. A young snake having a good diet sheds more compared to other snakes. 

A healthy one should shed once a month. The whole shedding takes 7 to 14 days. It starts with a subtle dulling of their skin. Then the skin gets dull, and eyes turn to white blue. When this happens, your snake refuses food and not yet developed. Handling them is not a good idea. You might cause serious damage to their new skin. After the dulling period, their skin will become shiny, and eyes get clearer. Their skin can still be damaged. Be cautious not to touch them. At the end of this stage, they will find rough objects like rocks to start shedding. 

This dulling over is followed by a three- to four-day period, where the skin looks shiny, and the eyes return to being clear. The skin is still easily damaged by rough handling, so care must be taken when touching the animal. At the end of this phase, the snake begins to seek out rough objects in its cage, such as branches or rocks, which can be used to start their shedding process. They will start by rubbing his nose and lower jaw’s skin until the skin gets loose. Then, they will crawl to remove the remaining skin. They will invert over their bodies while moving along. If shedding happens, check the eye caps and spectacles. Stuck eye caps can lead to infection. 

Shedding problems are often blamed for management and husbandry issues. Others are low humidity, improper diet, low temperature in the cage, not having enough furniture to use for rubbing. Correct them and shedding problems will not happen again.


This is infestation from ticks and mites. Snake mites suck too much blood causing anemia for the snake. Mites pass disease from one animal to another. They are found in the scales, eye caps, and labial pits. This is related to an unclean cage, wrong practices, or by importing. Mites might spread to others. these mites are the reasons for many diseases among reptiles. They come in various types. 

A snake-infested has a lackluster and dull appearance. The mites stay in the most protected area of the snake. When their number increases, eradicating them would be difficult. Treat your snake together with their cage. Seek advice from someone who has experience.

Fun Facts

•They are carnivores 

•They don’t have eyelids.

•They can’t bite their food, so they swallow their food whole.

•They have flexible jaws that let them swallow bigger prey.

•They have internal ears but no external ones.

•They respond to the movement, not sound. 

•They are covered in scales.

•Their skin is dry and smooth. 

•Skin shedding happens a few times a year. 

•They smell using their tongue.

Differentiating a Long-nosed Snake from a Kingsnake

  • Long-nosed comes in red, orange, or pink coloration while kingsnakes don’t.
  • Some long-nosed have orange or red eyes whereas kingsnakes are black and white or black.
  • Long-nosed have pointed and longer nose than kingsnakes.
  • Long-nosed tend to have grey or white smudges in their hands, while kingsnakes are just black.

Availability: Where to Get One?

Get them from online snake breeders or go to reptile pet stores in your locality.

How to Care?

1. Put them in a terrarium that is about the length of their bodies.

2. Use loose sand having 2 inches deep. Put bark or rocks.

3. Newspapers can be used as a substrate.

4. The temperature should be 80 degrees F. 

5. Use a heat lamp to raise the temperature. Too high or too low temperature is not good.

6. Put a clean bowl of water. 

7. Feed them as needed.

8. Vary their diet.

9. Check for some health problems to give treatment when needed.

FAQ Section

What do long-nosed snakes eat?

These snakes are carnivores. They eat lizards, rodents, grasshoppers, and more. 

Where do long-nosed snakes live?

They are widely distributed in Central California, northern Mexico. They are nocturnal and live in dry prairies and deserts. 

Is the long-nosed snake venomous?

They come from the family of Colubridae. This species is non-venomous. They are endemic to northern America. 

How can you tell the difference between a poisonous and nonpoisonous snake?

Poisonous snakes have an oblong shape of a pupil having peaked end resembling a slit in the eye’s center. Non-venomous have round pupils. However, there are exceptions. 

Can snakes feel fear?

When snakes feel hostile, they coil or hiss. They are not aggressive except when threatened. A snake that feels fear just gets away or show similar actions to aggression. 

Can snakes show affection?

No, they can’t, but they can be familiar with their keepers or owners by smell or warmth from handling. 

Can snakes see?

There are some exceptions, but most snakes can’t see well. 

Can snakes see in the dark?

Snakes have the ability to see in the dark. This is because of protein channels activated by heat coming from the prey’s body. 

Why do snakes flick their tongues?

They flick their tongues to collect odor in the moisture particles that float on the air. 

Do snakes taste the air?

To collect chemicals from the ground or air. Their tongue doesn’t have receptors that can smell or taste. 

Can a snake hear?

They have no visible ear; thus, they can’t hear sounds. They have apparatus found inside their heads. It is attached to the jaw bone. This feels vibrations as well as low-frequency sound. 

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