Gopher Snake

Scientific Name:

Pituophis catenifer

Type:

Reptile

Habitat:

Deserts, woodlands, prairies, scrublands, coniferous forests, and human-cultivated land

Range:

Central and western North America

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

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.

Fast Facts:

  • 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.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Aramee Diethelm (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

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