have a slender and pointed head and don't rattle. As you can see, Jeffrey handles the snake carefully
and respectfully, not allowing the head to be too close to his face and fingers. The snake will bite if
given an opportunity. This snake is very young, perhaps just a year old. They can become very
large as seen in the images below.
(Pituophis melanoleucus) can be mistaken for rattlesnakes
because of their dark dorsal patches on their generally yellow or cream
bodies. They are not venomous snakes, however, killing their prey (rodents,
rabbits, insects, birds and their eggs, and lizards) by constriction. They
sometimes raise and shake their tail, hissing and playing up their resemblance
to rattlesnakes. They have small heads, however, without the larger, more
triangular head of a rattlesnake. The snout is somewhat pointed and there
is an enlarged scale which extends upward between the nostrils. The scales
are keeled, and the snakes range from 48-100 inches (122-254 cm) in length
Skin is patterned in golds and reddish-browns. Adults reach four and a half feet.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Southern British Columbia and throughout much of the western portion of the United States. Found in open woodlands, plains, agricultural areas - everywhere except high mountains.
Mice, rabbits, ground squirrels, pocket gophers. Kills by constriction.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Usually active by day, but nocturnal in hot weather. Mates in the spring. Up to 24 eggs are laid in a burrow or beneath a rock or log. Eggs hatch in 9-11 weeks.
V. SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
The scale on the tip of the snake's snout is enlarged upward on the head; this modification is probably because of its partly burrowing habits. They burrow underground for shelter or take over a mammal or tortoise burrow.
VI. INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
The gopher snake is a close relative of the pine and bull snakes, and all are of great benefit to farmers because of the number of rodents they eat. If the snake is threatened and cannot get away, it will face the threat with a flattened head, coil in s-loops, and vibrate its tail. It also inhales a large amount of air so that it looks larger and will release this air in loud hissing noises accompanied by strikes.