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Great Basin Gopher Snake

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The Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) is a species of small colubrid snake native to the western part of the United States. The Great Basin Gopher Snake can be found all over the west including some areas of Canada and Mexico. This serpent can be found in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Arizona, British Columbia, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Idaho.[1]

Description Edit

The Great Basin Gopher Snake have dorsal spots that are dark brown or black, and they are connected to each other by very narrow lines that run along each side of the anterior end. On each side of the neck there usually is a dark longitudinal stripe that is surrounded by some lighter coloring, which eventually breaks up towards the posterior end of the snake and turns into dashes or small spots. The body scales are keeled and the head has a pointed shape. The Great Basin's underbelly has a creamy color with small, dark, irregular blotches. Their average lifespan is 7 years.[2]

Scutellation in Great Basins Usual # of Scales
Midbody 29-35
Ventrals 214-259
Caudals 54-71
Anal entire
Prefrontal scales usually 4
Supralabials 8-10
Infralabials 9-15
Preoculars 1-2
Postoculars 2-6
[3]

Habitat Edit

As aforementioned, the Great Basin Gopher Snake can be found all over the western United States. They can be found in many grasslands, woodlands, deserts, coastal sage scrub, agriculture land, and riparian areas.[4]

Behavior Edit

The Great Basin is a great climber, swimmer, and burrower. It is one of the most commonly found snakes while hiking and driving on the road. They are easily seen in the Spring when the males are out and about trying to find a mate. The hatchlings are easily found in late August and September when they emerge from their eggs. Great Basins are not dangerous unless provoked, as is with most animals. When they are defending themselves from predators will elevate and inflate their bodies, and flatten its head into a triangular shape. Loud hissing noises will ensue, along with quick shaking of its tail to mimmick the sound of the deadly rattlesnake. Unlike the rattlesnake, however, the Great Basin is nonvenomous.[4]

Diet Edit

The Great Basin is a carnivore, and it eats many things. Some of these include birds and their eggs, lizards, small mammals (pocket gophers), and insects.[5]

Reproduction Edit

When it comes to subspecies of Gopher Snakes their eggs are laid anywhere from June to August, and the Great Basin is no exception. It usually takes the eggs 2 to 2.5 months to hatch. After the snakes mate in the Spring they usually lay anywhere from 3 to 24 eggs, with 7 eggs being the average. When the young are born, they are usually in the range of 12 to 18 inches in length.[2]

Scientific Study Edit

The following link (BJLS) is a study done on Gopher Snakes (P. catenifer about their feeding ecology. The study focuses on the contents of the stomachs of more than 2600 specimens and looks at the most commonly eaten prey.[6]

References Edit

  1. California Herps. Retrieved on 2009-10-04.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Utah's Hogle Zoo. Retrieved on 2009-10-03.
  3. World Pituophis Web Page. Retrieved on 2009-10-04.,
  4. 4.0 4.1 Zipcode Zoo. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.
  5. The Pituophis Page. Retrieved on 2009-10-06.
  6. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Retrieved on 2009-10-05.

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