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Great Basin Gopher Snake

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Is the Great Basin Gopher Snake right for you?

Species group:

Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer deserticola

The basics:
Great Basin Gopher Snakes are found from south-central British Columbia, Canada, to California, Arizona, and New Mexico. They are common in the coastal areas, but can be spotted in agricultural lands, woodlands, deserts, grasslands, and mountain ranges.

Appearance / health:
Great Basin Gopher Snakes average 5 feet in length, although species of about 7 feet long have been recorded. They are considered large non-venomous constrictors, with a small, narrow head that is slightly wider than the neck, which often has dark bands on the sides. The powerful body of the Great Basin Gopher Snake is cream to yellow, with large dark brown to black blotches on the back. Compared to other gopher snakes, these northern range subspecies have markings that tend to be darker and interspersed rather than defined. Smaller blotches and markings are often seen along the sides and on the underside, which is mostly cream in color. The scales are heavily keeled, and a rostral scale is present on the snout to help in their burrowing and digging for prey and hideouts.

Behavior / temperament:
Considered diurnal and crepuscular, Great Basin Gopher Snakes are active in the daytime, especially at dusk and at dawn. They are also seen hunting at night during summertime. They are powerful constrictors that burrow, swim, and climb to hunt for prey. Similar to other snake species, a threatened Great Basin Gopher Snake can flatten its head and make a loud hissing sound while inflating its body and shaking its tail.

Housing:
The Great Basin Gopher Snake is best housed in a woodland terrarium that is 3-4 feet long and 2-3 feet wide, equipped with climbing branches, hide boxes, and a large water dish for drinking and submerging. Substrate should be dry and easy to manage, like newspapers and paper towels or reptile carpeting. Day temp: 75-85F; night temp: 70F; lighting: 12 hours

Like other gopher snakes, the Great Basin Gopher Snake easily gets nervous and stressed. They tend to burrow under the substrate or tuck into hide boxes, but when properly handled, they can be tamed.

Diet:
Great Basin Gopher Snakes eat rodents and other small mammals, with a fondness for pocket gophers. They also accept lizards, insects, nestling birds, and eggs.

Breeding:
Great Basin Gopher Snakes are egg-layers, producing clutches of 2-24 eggs that produce large hatchlings in 2-3 months. Maturity is reached in 3-4 years.