Deserts, woodlands, prairies, scrublands, coniferous forests, and human-cultivated land
Central and western North America
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Gopher snakes are large and heavy-bodied, non-venomous snakes. They can range in color from cream yellow to tan to greenish gray. Along the back of these snakes are many dark-brown or reddish blotches. Most gopher snakes have a dark stripe that runs from their eyes to their jaw. Gopher snakes are generally somewhere between 36 to 96 inches long, although they have been known to grow to a length of up to nine feet. Gopher snakes are also known as bull snakes.
Gopher snakes will often imitate rattlesnakes to frighten potential predators. When startled, the snakes coil up, vibrate their tails, and hiss as a warning. The snakes may even flatten their heads into a triangular shape to further resemble a rattlesnake.
Gopher snakes are also capable of imitating the rattle sound of rattlesnakes. The rattle-like noise is produced by use of an organ in the snakes' mouths called the glottis.
The absence of a rattle-like structure at the end of gopher snake tails, the lack of any facial pit, and rounded pupils are features that distinguish a gopher snake from an actual rattlesnake.
Gopher snakes hibernate through the winter in communal dens. These dens can sometimes be shared with rattlesnakes, whipsnakes, and racers.
In the Paiute language, gopher (or bull) snakes are called Tonotuhabu.
Pyramid Lake, The Paiute Language, 2021, http://www.numuinc.com/home/the-tribe/the-paiute-language/
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Gopher Snake, 2021, https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_gopher_snake.php
DesertUSA, Gopher Snake, 2021, https://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/gopher-snake.html#ixzz5jpCD1Ugq
IUCN Red List, Pituophis catenifer, 2021, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/63869/12723241
Image: Mark Herr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Basin_Gopher_Snake.jpg, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en, cropped from original.
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