The purpose of this study was to examine 6 species of colubrid snakes from California for helminths: the glossy snake, Arizona elegans; western shovelnose snake, Chionactis occipitalis; coachwhip, Masticophis flagellum; striped racer, Masticophis lateralis; spotted leafnose snake, Phyllorhynchus decurtatus; and longnose snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei.
One hundred fifty-nine individuals of six colubrid snake species: Arizona elegans (n = 43, mean snout-vent length [SVL] = 589 mm [+ or -] 205 SD, range = 238-930 mm), Chionactis occipitalis (n = 31, SVL = 258 mm [+ or -] 20 SD, range = 222-300 mm), Masticophis flagellum (n = 12, SVL = 861 mm [+ or -] 118 SD, range 697-1104 mm), Masticophis lateralis (n = 14, SVL = 765 mm [+ or 1] 136 SD, range 520-963 mm), Phyllorhynchus decurtatus (n = 26, SVL = 357 mm [+ or -]47 SD, range = 242-469 mm), and Rhinocheilus lecontei (n = 33, SVL = 590 mm [+ or -] 93 SD, range = 362-743 mm) were borrowed from the herpetology collection of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM), Los Angeles, California (accession numbers, Appendix 1).
Arizona elegans and Masticophis lateralis harbored five helminth species each; Chionactis occipitalis and Rhinocheilus lecontei harbored three; Masticophis flagellum harbored two and Phyllorhynchus decurtatus harbored one helmin th species.
Masticophis lateralis prefers chaparral, open hardwood-pine forest in the mountains and is especially common around water (Behler and King 1979).
Arizona elegans and Masticophis lateralis represent new host records.
This is the first report of tetrathyridia in Arizona elegans, Masticophis lateralis and Rhinocheilus lecontei.
This is the first report of cystacanths in Masticophis lateralis.
There is some dietary overlap in these snakes: Arizona elegans feeds mainly on lizards and rodents with a few birds and snakes; Chionactis occipitalis eats insects, spiders, scorpions and centipedes; Masticophis flagellum feeds on small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, insects and carrion; Masticophis lateralis eats frogs, lizards, snakes, small mammals, birds and insects; Phyllorhynchus decurtatus feeds on small lizards and their eggs; Rhinocheilus lecontei feeds almost exclusively on lizards (Stebbins 1985; Rodriguez-Robles et al.
However, it is of interest to note that only Masticophis lateralis which is especially common in areas with water (Behler and King 1979) harbored Paralechriorchis syntomentera, a helminth requiring amphibians as intermediate hosts.
Masticophis lateralis (n = 14) 027794, 027795, 027797, 052540, 052542, 075211, 111203, 111204, 111207, 111210, 111213, 111215, 111216, 111218.