California Lyre Snake

Today’s article is about the California Lyre Snake (Trimorphodon lyrophanes), which unfortunately I have not yet seen in the wild, but I frequently get asked about them. I think it is time to write an article featuring these interesting, harmless rattlesnake mimics.

The California Lyre Snake is a semi-common, harmless and mildly venomous snake. Its venom is used only to subdue prey, and is not considered dangerous to humans. They are often confused with rattlesnakes because, like rattlesnakes, their eyes have vertical pupils and their scales have similar patterns. You may see these snake in trees since they like to climb, and I believe this climbing predilection is the reason they hold the record for the most emails I have received about people finding snakes inside houses, though sand snakes and night snakes are close behind.

Lyre snakes eat mostly lizards, although rodents, birds, bird eggs and small snakes are also sometimes eaten. I have heard these snakes can handle pretty cold temperatures, and will be out in dry and wet conditions. So, even when it’s a cool, wet and windy night, they will sometimes be out, which is more than I can say for myself.