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Snakes (surprise!) are commonly found in the middle of town

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 at 6:07 am in Gopher snake, Snakes.

Gopher snake by Sue Miller, Livermore, CA.
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Dear Gary:
A few weeks ago, while workmen were replacing doors in my Livermore, Calif.,  house, I was in my side yard and decided to go in to get my sunglasses. I walked in from the garage and into an internal hall leading to my bedroom.  As my eyes adjusted to the change of light I thought I saw a slight movement at the edge of the hall.

When I looked more closely, I saw a rather large snake, front part emerging from the sliding doors of my linen closet!  He was raised up and hissing. The shock elicited a scream from me and the snake went completely into the closet.  From the brief glance I had, I was afraid it could possibly a rattlesnake!

Gopher snake by Sue Miller, Livermore, CA
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My workmen came running and told me to go call animal control.  I was in the kitchen with the phone, when the men called out that they thought it was a gopher snake.  They asked for a stick and container with a lid which they used to capture this amazingly long and healthy gopher snake!  They kindly relocated the snake out near the back of nearby Del Valle Dam. (See attached photos pre and post release.)

Thank goodness for these men and the fact that one of them, Danny, was a self avowed “reptile boy” as a child! I couldn’t have captured or released it and, without their help, might have considered moving!

This seemed a very strange happening as we live in an area that is many blocks from the nearest vineyard and more than a block from the nearest park. We do have a koi pond and many plants in our backyard where we have seen possums, quail, squirrels, lizards, raccoons, frogs but never a snake!

My workmen thought the snake may have come in while they were replacing the back and front doors days before when there was an open doorway for several hours.  Is this unusual behavior for a gopher snake?  I thought later that perhaps he might have been someone’s pet. He had to do some sidewalk or road slithering to get to our location and it’s very hard to imagine. Any ideas?
Sue Miller, Livermore, California

Gopher snake by Sue Miller, Livermore, CA.
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Dear Sue:
Actually, that was a pretty common behavior for any kind of snake and not hard to imagine at all. Gopher snakes, garter snakes, kingsnakes, the occasional rattlesnake, and other species are often found slithering around in the middle of town, sometimes blocks away from the nearest open space. People don’t notice them as they’re crawling along on the ground.

A lot of yards are also naturally landscaped, with plenty of nooks and crannies and logs and rock piles and bushes for a snake to live in. I personally have designed my backyard to attract snakes and lizards to help “supervise” the insects and rodents in my garden, since I don’t use insecticides and other poisons.

We have a nice working arrangement. They get to eat all the insects and rodents they can catch, and my wife and I get to eat all the vegetables we’re able to raise in our yard with their help! It works for me! /Gary

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