Great Basin Gopher Snake

Great Basin Gopher Snake


Southern British Columbia, Canada and throughout much of the western United States


Large variety of habitats from sea level to 9,000 feet; dry sandy areas, pine woodlands, plains, abandoned fields, deserts; favors cultivated fields, grass, or brush.


Straw or pale brown colored with a row of large square blotches, reddish brown and black on the back and similar smaller blotches on the sides; the underneath is creamy colored with irregular dark small blotches. The body scales are keeled. The head is quite pointed. Unique feature: A filament of cartilaginous flesh in the mouth is situated immediately in front of the breathing passage. When the snake is angry the mouth is partially opened, the filament is raised, the breath is violently expelled against it. Thus a very loud hissing noise can be produced.

Great Basin Gopher Snake

This snake is a constrictor. Diurnal except in hot weather. A good climber and burrower. It may vibrate its tail rapidly if threatened; in dry grass or leaves the resulting sound resembles that of a rattlesnake. This reaction has led to the legend that bull snakes and rattlers can interbreed, thus producing a vicious cross that can either poison or constrict its prey. This is pure fable.


This snake mates in the spring: lays 3 – 24 eggs (average 7) in damp burrows or other sites. The eggs incubate for about 70 days depending on temperatures. The young emerging from the eggs are 12 – 18 inches in length.

Interesting Facts:

The gopher snakes and bull snakes are subspecies of the Northern Pine Snake.

Great Basin Gopher Snake
Great Basin Gopher Snake
Native Utah Animal
Class: reptiles
Genus: Pituophus
Species: melanoleucus deserticola
Length: May grow to 7 ft., but the average is 2 1/2 - 6 ft.
Average Lifespan: 7
Wild Diet: Primarily rodents, rabbits and birds, occasionally a lizard. This snake is of economic value in farming areas as a controller of rodents.
Zoo Diet: N/A
Predators: Mainly man. Large birds of prey -hawks, owls, and eagles. To a small degree some other snakes.
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building: Temperate Zone

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