The sharp-tailed snake (Contia tenuis) is a small snake with a sharp tail end, a blunt head and distinct underside. The back is brown with a copper colored line on each side.
I was returning from a check of the watertank on June 8, 2008 about 6:00 pm when I saw a stick on the dirt road in the shade of oaks. Ahhh, actually, it was a small snake. I stepped back to pull my gloves off my pack and then leaned over to snatch it up. Gee, my curiosity actually gave me the courage to pick up a snake. When I saw the white underside with stark black crossbars, I vaguely remembered reading about such a snake.
Snake calmly traveled in my gloved hand to the house where we browsed the library for snake books. With a quick reference to the excellent photos in Alan St. John's book, I realized my bookish companion was a sharp-tailed snake, the first I had ever seen. They have a sharp spine at the tip of their tail. There might be a short-tailed species and a long-tailed species, but at the time, I didn't read far enough and didn't know to measure the tail. I am hoping to see more sharp-tailed snakes so I can get some tail metrics.
I took the sharp-tailed snake back to his original location, and let him go near a drainage where he might find some slugs for dinner. Sharp-tailed snakes are not listed as rare but I rarely hear people mention them, so I think they are rarely seen.
Alan St. John, Reptiles of the Northwest, Lone Pine Publishing, 2002.