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Rattlesnakes & gopher snakes: How to tell the difference

By Gary Bogue
Friday, August 26th, 2011 at 6:54 am in Gopher snake, Rattlesnake.

Western rattlesnake. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1rattler2 dave harper oakley

People can have a lot of trouble telling gopher snakes (harmless) and rattlesnakes (poisonous) apart. From time to time, I will come across photos that are good at helping you decide which is which. Check out these photos.

Pacific gopher snake. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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I find these photos by Dave Harper of Oakley, California, to be very helpful in that regard. /Gary

Western rattlesnake. Note rattle. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
1rattler dave harper oakley

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3 Responses to “Rattlesnakes & gopher snakes: How to tell the difference”

  1. Marianne Burns Says:

    Gary, We live in Walnut Creek, Northgate area, but not close to the open space. Last night at 11:30 pm I discovered a rattlesnake in our laundryroom behind the door. What alerted me to it was the distinctly loud hissing sound (sizzling sound) and our young cat focused in its direction I grabbed the cat and yelled to my husband, but assumed it was a “garden snake.” He knew rattlesnakes and immediately exclaimed that. It was very exciting as he killed it with a shovel with two daughters screaming nearby. We are assuming it came in through a hole found in the sink cabinet, from under the house. Last fall we had the exterminator out for finding one mouse, and with two indoor/outdoor cats we thought we had that covered. We don’t leave catfood outside ever. How did that snake get as far as our neighborhood (Quiet Place Drive, WC)? Can we expect more snakes? Is there a family of breeding snakes? Where did it come from?? We cut the rattle off, and it truly is a rattlesnake, an adolescent one. But, it certainly made a strong hissing noise!!

  2. Marianne Burns Says:

    I wrote the above blog on rattlesnake in house. Took pictures. It is a small rattlesnake, a little wider thatn a garden snake in width. Definitely looks like the Western Rattlesnake from the marking shown in pictures. Cut off the rattler end and that is 5/8 inches (beyond the scales.) So, maybe it can be considered a “baby” but it must eat mice or other rodents to survive. Does it eat bugs?

  3. Dave Says:

    Wow, what a cool purple tongue on the first rattlesnake.

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