Pacific Gopher Snake

Pituophis catenifer





Pituophis catenifer catenifer, one of six subspecies of gopher snakes, is the largest snake found in California (3). Up to 279 cm in length, Pacific gopher snakes have a relatively small head and a narrow snout (2). While coloration varies across region, patterns remain generally the same; with a tan body and dark blotches (3). Pacific gopher snakes are a habitat generalist; found in deserts, prairies, brushland, woodlands, conifer forest, and farmland (3). They primarily feed on small rodents but also have a diverse diet of lizards, eggs, and insects (3). Pacific gopher snakes’ appearance and behavior when threatened are similar to a rattlesnakes’; which include tail vibrations, loud hissing, and even lunging at the threat (1)(2). Unlike rattlesnakes, a Pacific gopher snakes’ bite is not venomous (1).


(1) Hallock, L.A. and McAllister, K.R. 2005. Gopher Snake. Washington Herp Atlas.

(2) Illinois Natural History Survey. (n.d.). Pituophis catenifer (Blainville, 1835) -- Gophersnake.

(3) Stebbins, R. C. & McGinnis, S. M. (2012). Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California (Revised ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

(Photograph) © Alice Abela