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Archive for the 'Snakes' Category

Cat and garter snake are best of friends.

Tiger Lily and her garter snake friend. Photo by Stephanie Santos, Hayward, CA
1cat & friend stephanie santos hayward

I just wanted to share a picture of my cat Tiger Lily and her friend, a neighborhood garter snake, who came for a visit and hung out in the patio.  I really enjoy your column. Have a great day,
Stephanie Santos, Hayward, California

Curious, how our pet cats will sometimes interact with unusual creatures. Many years ago I has a tabby named John who I would occasionally find sitting out on our back patio next to an alligator lizard. One of my present cats, Jazz, has this thing going with a skunk and its family. Jazz will often sit at the sliding glass door in my home office and look out at a female skunk standing on the other side of the door. They’ll just sit and stare at each other. In the spring, the skunk will bring her babies and they’ll all  stare back and forth, just inches away from each other, separated by a pane of glass. Interesting. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Under: Alligator lizard, Cats, Skunks, Snakes | No Comments »

Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s Wildlife Exclusion Service

Raccoon in the house. Photo by Maureen Wright, Pittsburg, CA
coon in house


Wildlife exclusion is a service offered by Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif.,  to ensure the harmless eviction of wild animals from areas where they are not wanted such as attics, crawl spaces and garages. Humane techniques are used to evict wildlife and proven methods are used to prevent re-entry. Proceeds from this service go directly towards funding the museums wildlife rehabilitation hospital.

If you need this service, please call the museum at 925-627-2943

Common problems:
*** Raccoons, opossums, skunks nesting in crawlspace
*** Squirrels in attic
*** Snakes in garage

Typical solution:
*** Identify the entrance
*** Humanely evict the animal
*** Clean or sanitize the area
*** Repair and prevention measures
*** Close the opening
*** Follow up call or inspection
*** Habitat and conservation education

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum is at 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek. Find out more about this wonderful place at /Gary

Mama opossum and babies by Andy & Peggy Mosko, Fremont, CA.
andy & peggy mosko, fremont2

Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Under: Opossums, Raccoons, Skunks, Snakes | No 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 »

Photos of Pacific ringneck snake found in a local yard

Pacific ringneck snake by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
ringneck1 brian murphy wc


I have not seen a Ringneck snake in 30 years.  Got photos of a young one yesterday. I must be spending time in the wrong habitat to run across them.
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Under: Ringneck snake, Snakes | 1 Comment »

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.
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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)
gopher snak2

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Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Under: Gopher snake, Rattlesnake, Snakes | 2 Comments »

Vine snakes: Unique video of them feeding at Academy of Sciences

Hello Gary:
At feeding time in the California Academy of Sciences’ vine snake exhibit, one blink and you might miss the action.  These pencil-thin snakes hunt fish swimming in the water below, striking with lightning speed.

We recently captured a feeding on film  and I thought you might be interested in sharing it with your blog readers.  A piscivorous arboreal (fish-eating and tree-dwelling) snake is extremely rare, and the Academy was the first aquarium in the world to display this species, thanks to our ongoing research on the reptiles and amphibians of Myanmar.
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Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Under: Snakes, Steinhart Aquarium | No Comments »

Rattlesnake vs. Gopher Snake: Can you & your kids tell the difference?

Western Rattlesnake by Brian Murphy

If you can get a close look at a rattlesnake or a gopher snake, they’re pretty easy to tell apart. But you don’t always get a close look when you find one crawling in your yard … and at a time like that they can look pretty similar and you may be fooled.

If you find a rattlesnake in your yard, make sure your children stay away from it and put your dog in the house so it can’t go sniff the snake and get bitten. If you need help … call your local animal services department or the police. Then keep an eye on the snake (from a safe distance) so you can show the authorities where it is when they arrive.
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Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Under: Snakes | 18 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 »