Species group: Gopher Snakes
Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer affinis
The Sonoran Gopher Snake’s range is southeast California to the Colorado River, eastward to Arizona and New Mexico, south to Texas, and down into Mexico. They are seen in the Imperial Valley, in desert flats, agricultural lands, and in areas close to streams and rivers.
Appearance / health:
Adult Sonoran Gopher Snakes measure from 3 to 7 feet in length. They are considered large constrictors with keeled scales and a rostral scale on the snout for burrowing. The body color is light brown to tan with large reddish brown blotches along the back. The brown blotches look like well-defined saddles, dark near the neck, lighter over the middle of the body, and darker to almost black towards the tail. Smaller blotches appear on the sides, and small black spots are a creamy yellow neck area. A dark line stretches from the eyes to the corner of the mouth. The belly is creamy yellow with dark markings.
Behavior / temperament:
Considered diurnal and crepuscular, Sonoran 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 hunt by burrowing into the underground homes of ground squirrels, gopher rats, and other rodents. They climb trees to hunt for nestling birds and eggs.
The Sonoran Gopher Snake is best housed in a woodland terrarium 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 Sonoran 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.
Sonoran Gopher Snakes eat small rodents and other mammals, with a fondness for pocket gophers. They also accept lizards, insects, nestling birds, and eggs. They constrict their prey to suffocation.
Sonoran Gopher Snakes reach maturity in about 3 years. They mate in the spring after coming out of hibernation. A month and a half after mating, the female lays 2 to 24 eggs that hatch in about two a half months
purple stripes, excellent appetites, excellent pet snake, stunning, regular handling, temperment
Boys Will Be Boys
As kids, my brother and I used to wander about on our own in the desert by our home in Arizona. We would often catch small lizards and snakes and bring them home to keep as pets.
Usually our mother would let us keep them for a few days, then make us release them back into the wild. Our pet gopher snake was one of the few exceptions. We kept it for a few years before we moved to California. When we moved, our mom made us release it. I didn't learn how to sex snakes until several years afterwards, so I couldn't tell you if it was a male or female snake.
It turned out to be a very good pet. We fed it small white mice from the pet store and watching it eat always simultaneously gross me out and fascinate me. It was very gentle and seemed to be okay with being frequently handled. It often sought out warm areas of the body to hide - my arm pits seemed to be it's favorite place.
We were used to interacting with animals as kids, having grown up around a huge range of different pets and livestock. I think that was an important factor. Even at a young age (I was six when we first got this snake), I was able to handle it gently and compassionately. I feel that had I been rougher with the snake, and mishandled it, it would have not been as docile. So before recommending a pet snake for a young boy or girl, I would first caution parents to consider the child's temperament, as they should with any pet..
From skywise Jul 14 2015 1:47PM