Pacific Gopher Snake, Terrace Ave, Half Moon Bay, Calif 2015

Adults of this species can be 2.5 - 7 feet long (76 - 213 cm) but most of this subspecies are from 4.5 - 5 ft. (137 - 152 cm.) Hatchlings are fairly long, and may exceed 20 inches in length (51 cm.)

A large snake with heavily keeled scales, a narrow head that is slightly wider than the neck, and a protruding rostral scale on the tip of the snout that is bluntly rounded. A striped morph is also found, often in Solano and Yolo Counties around the Davis Area.

Color and Pattern
Ground color is straw or tan, with large square dark chocolate blotches or saddles along the back and smaller gray spots on the sides. The back of the neck is dark brown. The underside is cream to yellowish with dark spots. Often there is a reddish color on the top, especially near the tail.

Life History and Behavior

Active in the daytime, and at night in hot weather. One of the most commonly seen snakes on roads and trails, especially in the spring when males are actively seeking a mate, and in the fall when hatchlings emerge. A good burrower, climber, and swimmer.

When threatened, a gopher snake will elevate and inflate its body, flatten its head into a triangular shape, hiss loudly, and quickly shake its tail back and forth to make a buzzing sound which may be a mimic of a rattlesnake rattler it could be a similar behavior that helps to warn off an animal that could be a threat to the gopher snake. Gopher snakes have a specially-developed epiglottis which increases the sound of their hiss when air is forced through the glottis.

Diet and Feeding
Small mammals, especially pocket gophers, birds and their eggs, and occasionally lizards and insects. A powerful constrictor; kills prey by suffocating them in body coils or by pressing the animal against the walls of their underground burrows.

Mating occurs in spring after emergence from winter hibernation, with eggs laid June - August, hatching in 2 to 2.5 months. Mating and egg laying will occur later in more northern climates or at higher elevations.


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