Gopher Snake Facts
Also known as: Pacific gopher snake, coast gopher snake, bullsnake
The main source of food for gopher snakes is gophers, hence its name. The life expectancy of a gopher snake is 12 to 15 years, but captive snakes may live longer.
Gopher snakes are nonvenomous and can be found in a number of environments, including marshes, prairies, forest, and deserts. Gopher snakes are extremely important to their ecosystems, as they keep rodents from becoming major problems in their area.
Typically, gopher snakes get confused for rattlesnakes because of their physical similarities. As a defense mechanism, gopher snakes curl up into an ‘S’-like shape and rattle their tail as if actually a rattlesnake, making it hard to tell the difference between the two species.
When threatened, a gopher snake will attack with a closed mouth to scare off predators. But they can also unleash a powerful bite that can cause severe pain to its target. The hiss given by the gopher snake is the loudest of any other snake, which is another defense mechanism they use when they feel threatened.
Gopher Snake Diet
Gopher Snakes ingest food by means of constriction, essentially strangling their prey to death. Once they prey is dead, gopher snakes swallow the carcass whole. But the diet of a gopher snake varies depending on their surroundings.
They live in many different ecosystems, so they consume a wide variety of prey. Rodents, like gophers, are this snake's favorite meal, but other animals like birds, rabbits, rats, mice, squirrels, and voles are other sources of food. Eggs of any kind may also be eaten by the gopher snake. With a nomadic lifestyle, the gopher snake lives wherever it can feed and find food.
Gopher Snake Reproduction
The life cycle or reproduction cycle beings in the spring when the snakes awaken from their hibernation. During the breeding season, gopher snakes become very territorial towards other male snakes competing for females to mate with. When approached by another male snake, the gopher snake will become very hostile and attack other snakes to show their dominance over them. Once a male finally mates with a female, the female snake then lays two to 24 eggs per batch.
FAQ About Gopher Snakes
Are Gopher Snakes Dangerous?
Gopher snakes can be dangerous, but only when they feel threatened. They do not have poisonous venom, which can severely hurt humans and in some cases result in death. In different cases, gopher snakes are known to attack with their mouths closed rather than with an open mouth. Bites are not out of the question, gopher snakes can bite but use it as a last resort.
Why do Gopher Snakes get confused with Rattlesnakes?
Gopher snakes know they look similar to rattlesnakes and use it to their advantage. When they are threatened, they mimic that of a rattlesnake by puffing out their body and lying in an “S”-like shape while rattling their tail like a rattlesnake would when threatened. It becomes very hard to decypher the two apart because the gopher snake has identical markings and color of the rattlesnake.