San Diego Gopher Snake

Order:  Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder:  Serpentes (snakes)
Family:  Colubridae ("typical" snakes)
Subfamily:  Colubrinae ("typical" snakes)
Genus:  Pituophis (gopher, bull, and pine snakes)

Scientific Name:  Pituophis catenifer annectens Baird & Girard, 1853

Habitat:  Fields, prairies, open woodlands and chaparral with sufficient ground cover.

Pitys="pine," ophis="snake," catena="chain," ifera="bearing," annectens="connecting"

Length:  can grow to more than 8 feet long. Old Scientific Name(s):  Pituophis melanoleucus annectens
Food:  Rodents and rabbits. Gopher Snake Range

In the same location I found the California kingsnakes, I also found 2 San Diego gopher snakes.  In addition, a young gopher snake was found near Riverside. The individual pictured here is an approximately-3-foot male with a beautiful suffusion of orange on the last half of his body.  He was found under a board near Carlsbad in January 2004.

San Diego Gopher Snake
This is a closeup of the male's head.  These snakes are known for two things--their appetite for rodents (hence the name "gopher snake"), and their defensive display.  When threatened, the snakes will coil and hiss loudly, even striking at the would-be attacker.  However, once captured, most of them calm down and can be handled.


Gopher Snake--Head

I said "most" in the paragraph above, because as is being demonstrated by the young snake in this photograph, some are downright nasty!  This juvenile initially coiled, then repeatedly struck at me (that's my boot on the left-hand side of the picture; I sat down to watch and photograph the snake's antics).  In fact, when I moved back, he followed me with mouth agape, hissing loudly, to make sure I left!

See also the Bullsnake I found in Texas.

NOTE:  the range map shows the distribution of all subspecies of Pituophis catenifer, including the bullsnake.  There are roughly 6 subspecies of P. catenifer; the taxonomy tends to change every few years as more is learned about these snakes.

Vicious Baby Snake!