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Reptiles of Washington

Gopher snake
(Pituophis melanoleucus)


What they look like

  • 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

  • Ranging throughout the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico, the 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 gopher 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

  • 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 gopher snakes are already 13 to 17 inches long when they first hatch! 


Distribution Map


Even though 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 gopher snakes is habitat quality reduction due to suppressed fire.