Name: Pacific Gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer)
Order: Snakes (Squamata)
Family: Common Snakes (Colubridae)
What they look like
- Pacific gopher snakes are large strongly built snakes with an average adult length of 48 to 66 inches.
- Their body’s upper side is white, yellow, or light gray with many brown or red blotches, and their underside is white with dark spots along the sides.
Where they live
- View a map of where they live.
- Ranging throughout the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico, the Pacific gopher snake is one of the most widespread snake species in North America.
- Can adapt to a wide variety of habitats as well, including deserts, prairies, brushlands, woodlands, coniferous forests, and even land altered for agriculture.
What they eat
- Rats, mice, moles, and other small mammals form the majority of the pine snake’s diet.
- Can also feed on birds and their eggs.
- Sometime between June and August, several females will lay their eggs in the same communal nest spot, which is in a sandy burrow, under a large rock, or under a log.
- The eggs will hatch after around 64 to 79 days.
Cool Biology Facts
- Pacific gopher snake eggs are some of the largest eggs of any snake found in the United States; they can be up to 66 millimeters long and 45 millimeters wide!
- Young Pacific gopher snakes are already 13 to 17 inches long when they first hatch!
- Even though Pacific gopher snakes are internationally considered “least concern”, some states in the northeastern United States consider them “threatened” and have laws protecting them.
- The main threat in these states for Pacific gopher snakes is habitat quality reduction due to suppressed fire.
- View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.