At first I thought of it as a gray racer. The snake was racer-built, and the mystery snake’s outstanding blue and white striping was not clear in the fading light of early dusk. Not until the photos were uploaded to the computer and enlarged on the monitor did it become obvious the stunning little reptile–about two feet long but slender–was decorated in truly flashy fashion.
You never know what sort of wildlife is going to show up next on our Cochise County acreage.
In fact, we don’t know what sort of wildlife did show up last night. I’ve had zero luck identifying this remarkable reptile. It wasn’t alarmed when I first saw it, but moved like a racer once it realized I was in fact aware of it and showing interest in it; the snake is fast. The striping and general conformation come close to fitting some of the garter snakes and ribbon snakes, but not quite. This critter’s nose is too chisel-sharp and the light (white or almost white) central dorsal stripe is far too wide to fit either of those categories. (The top of the head is largely blue with darker swatches above and behind the eyes, but behind the head there’s a white stripe that runs the full length of the body and tail.)
The striping pattern is unique; anyone who does know this species could never mistake it for anything else. First, the central dorsal white (or at least very light) stripe, flanked by narrower dark blue stripes, then a pair of super-narrow light stripes, and finally a pair of super-narrow dark blue stripes. Here’s hoping a Blue Striped Mystery Snake specialist sees this post and lets us know what we’re looking at here!
Other than the garter snakes and ribbon snakes, the closest color pattern (though it’s not really that close) is the Sonoran whipsnake…but it’s no whipsnake.
So…what is it? I’ve tried every Field Guide we have in the house plus a lot of different Google search wordings, up to and including “exotic striped snake worldwide”. So far, nothing. Nada. Zilch. At this point, enough hours of struggle are…enough. I do agree with the couple who overheard me talking about the reptile at a restaurant today and pointed out that it’s probably not a native species but a one-time pet that escaped or was released by its owner. Certainly, it’s more than beautiful enough to attract ownership–and fast enough to elude recapture if it once made it to the great outdoors. In fact, Pam took one look at the pictures and announced, “I want it!”
She knows that’s not going to happen, of course, but talk about love at first sight! So, if you happen to be the expert who knows what to call Blue Beauty, let us know.