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Archive for the 'Gopher snake' Category

Gopher snake hidden in the grass

Gopher snake’s head, hidden in the grass. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
1snake id brian murphy wc

Found the snake in the above photo at Bayberry Pond (Lime Ridge Open Space, Walnut Creek), stretched out enjoying the morning sun.  Always a hesitation to try and figure out what it was, the pointy tail eventually gave it a way. A nice well-fed, 4 foot gopher snake.

We thought about trying to catch it to see if we still had our 8 year old kid skills but decided to just leave it alone. The photo isn’t ‘good’ but it’s what things look like when you see them and it’s important to identify them before you make a bad decision.
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, California

Important indeed! You definitely don’t want to grab a rattlesnake! Besides the pointy tail (instead of rattles), you should also note the round pupil in the snake’s eye. Gopher snakes have round pupils … and rattlesnakes have vertical pupils, like cats.

Of course, if you are close enough to get a good look at the snake’s eyes, that’s a whole other story … /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake | 1 Comment »

Gopher snake spotted in Walnut Creek backyard

Pacific gopher snake. Photo by Janet Fournier, Walnut Creek, CA
1gopher snake janet fournier wc

This snake was in our backyard (upper Terrace Road area of Walnut Creek) yesterday afternoon.  It’s a gopher snake … isn’t it? It was approx. 4 1/2 feet long.  If it is a gopher snake I wish it would do a better job because we are inundated with gophers.  Thanks!
Janet Fournier, Walnut Creek, California

Yep, it’s a beautiful gopher snake. Hey, maybe it IS doing a better job. You might have twice as many gophers without it! Think about it. /Gary

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012
Under: Gopher snake | 3 Comments »

Red-tail hawk feasts on gopher snake

Red-tailed hawk feeds on gopher snake. Look carefully through the branches and you’ll see the snake’s body hanging down. Photo by Marina Chainey, Richmond, CA
1gophersnake marina chainey richmond

The gophers are plentiful in Wildcat Regional Park and I’ve been watching many raptors make meals of them.  Apparently the gopher snakes are also partaking in the bounty.  However, this gopher snake became a meal for a Red-tailed Hawk today.
Marina Chainey, Richmond, California

The food chain can get very complicated, or as they say … it’s a jungle out there! /Gary

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Under: Gopher, Gopher snake, Red-tailed hawk | 1 Comment »

Rattlesnakes & gopher snakes: How to tell the difference

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

Posted on Friday, August 26th, 2011
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake | 3 Comments »

Gopher snakes: This is what they look like

Gopher snake in backyard. Photo by Ling Lavezzoli, Walnut Creek, CA.
gopher john lavezzoli wc

The other day on a warm afternoon my wife came across about a foot long snake on our concrete patio.  She is very curious as to what type of snake it is, how big it will get and if it is dangerous (see attached photos).  Thanks for your help as I am snake dumb. Appreciate your time and informative column.
John Lavezzoli, Walnut Creek, CA

The snake is a beautiful and harmless gopher snake. It might gain another foot or two in length over the years, but that’s about the average size we see around here. Great to have in the yard as they eat insects and small rodents. Definitely not dangerous. When frightened, they will coil up, buzz their tails to make them look a little like a rattlesnake so you’ll go away and leave them alone. (Note the pointy tail; no rattles.) They will also flatten their heads and hiss and strike (harmlessly) at you. Rattlesnake do not hiss loudly like that. /Gary

Gopher snake in backyard. Photo by Ling Lavezzoli, Walnut Creek, CA.
gopher2 john lavezzoli wc

Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Snakes | 3 Comments »

Camouflage: Which is the rattlesnake? Which is the gopher snake?

Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
rattlesnake by brian murphy

Which photo is the poisonous Western rattlesnake and which photo is the non-poisonous Pacific gopher snake?

When it comes to camouflage, no one can top Mother Nature.

Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA.
gophersnake, brian

Click on “read the rest of this entry” to find the answer.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake, Snakes | 1 Comment »

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

Gopher snake by Sue Miller, Livermore, CA.
sue miller livermore1

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!
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Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Snakes | No Comments »

Rattlesnakes & gopher snakes: How to tell them apart

Poisonous Western rattlesnake (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
western rattlesnake

Spring has sprung and many cold blooded reptiles are now crawling out and about. In case you can’t tell the difference between rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, you and any other family members, especially children, should check out and compare these photographs of the two reptiles. /Gary

Harmless Pacific gopher snake (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
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Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake, Snakes | 2 Comments »

Do you recognize these snakes? You should!


The following snakes are four common local species that are regularly encountered in the San Francisco Bay Area. One is poisonous and the other three are harmless. (In case you haven’t already figured it out, the snake pictured above is a rattlesnake.)

Check these snakes out so you know which is which if you happen to encounter one in your backyard.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2008
Under: Gopher snake, King snake, Rattlesnake, Snakes | 3 Comments »