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Pacific Gopher Snake

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Natalie McNear

Is the Pacific Gopher Snake right for you?

Species group:

Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer catenifer

The basics:
The Pacific Gopher Snake is native to the west coast of North America, from northern California to the southern areas of British Columbia. They inhabit dryer areas such as fields and farmland, and have a diet of small mammals (including pocket gophers), birds and insects.

Appearance / health:
Among the Gopher Snakes, the Pacific Gopher Snake may have the most variety of colors and patterns. The most common body base color is yellowish tan to grayish brown, turning ash gray on the sides and yellow to orange in the belly. Dark brownish to black saddle markings are seen on the back, with alternating rows of black and brown spots on the sides. Notable markings on the Pacific Gopher Snake are the black stripe across the eyes and sometimes from the jaw to the eyes. Rostral scale is dominantly wide and high. Adult snakes grow to an average of 5 feet in length. Most common among various colorations are the blotched, striped, albino, hypomelanistic, anerythristic, and snow Pacific Gopher Snakes.

Behavior / temperament:
Pacific Gopher Snakes are generally diurnal, but tend to hunt in cooler hours of the morning and evening during summer. They are easy to handle but needs time to acclimate to new surroundings. They can become nervous and hiss and shake their tails when threatened. Under proper care, they are expected to live to about 20-25 years.

Housing:
Pacific Gopher Snakes are best housed in medium to large woodland-type enclosures with s substrate that dries quickly and is deep enough to burrow under. Newspaper or paper towels are recommended for easy cleanup. The cage should also be provided with sufficient branches and ledges for climbing, and a water dish for drinking and soaking. Day temp: 75-85F; night temp: 70-75F; lighting: 12 hours.
Fresh water should be provided daily, and the cage cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Diet:
Like other Gopher Snakes, the Pacific Gopher Snake preys on rodents, lizards, bats, birds, eggs, and nestlings.

Breeding:
The egg-laying Pacific Gopher Snake lay clutches of 10-20 eggs that hatch 65-70 days later.

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