Gopher Snake

Pituophis catenifer

GopherSnakeOnGrassGopher snakes
are the most
common snakes
in California.
These harmless
snakes are found
in arid and semi-arid regions.  They live in an array of habitats,
preferring sparse, open grasslands and brush areas.  Gopher snakes
are usually active by day but, in hot weather, they transition to a
nocturnal lifestyle.  They seek cover in rodent or tortoise burrows
and under surface objects such as flat rocks, logs, and boards.  They
hibernate in winter, retreating to communal dens, sometimes with
other snake species.

Gopher snakes’ behaviors and color pattern mimic the rattlesnakes,
with yellow or cream background color and black, dark brown or
reddish brown blotches down their back and a white or yellowish
belly.  They can reach up to 9 feet but are more commonly 4 to 5 feet
long.  If threatened, they face the threat with a spread, flattened
head while vibrating their tail and hissing to mimic a rattle.  Despite
their threatening performance, gopher snakes are not venomous
and kill their prey by constriction and suffocation.  They hunt
primarily by smell, foraging in burrows, on the ground, or in shrubs,
and prey on rodents, rabbits, lizards and birds and their eggs.  They
are of great benefit to farmers because of the number of rodents
they eat.  Their primary predators are red-tailed hawks, kit foxes,
and coyotes.

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