gopher snake

(Pituophis catenifer)

Conservation Status
gopher snake
Photo by Jeff LeClere
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable


Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need


Gopher snake is a large, nonvenomous, typical snake. It is the largest snake found in Minnesota.

The tail is yellow with dark rings. The head is yellow with irregular dark markings.




37 to 72


Similar Species


Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) has a black tail with a tan segmented rattle.

Western fox snake (Mintonius ramspotti) head is reddish-brown and is mostly unmarked.


Sandy prairies, bluff prairies, fields, pastures, savannas, and open woodlands. Sandy soil.




Gopher snake is a rattlesnake mimic. When disturbed it will rapidly shake its tail against vegetation or an object to produce a rattle-like sound. It is not poisonous but will strike and deliver a painful bite if cornered.




10 to 25 years


Life Cycle






Mostly small mammals, but also birds, bird eggs, frogs, and lizards.


Distribution Map



4, 6, 7, 14, 24, 29, 30, 74, 76, 78.




Widespread; common in parts of its range; possibly declining in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa due to habitat loss.

  Class Reptilia (reptiles)  
  Superorder Lepidosauria  
  Order Squamata (snakes and lizards)  
  Suborder Serpentes (snakes)  
  Infraorder Alethinophidia  
  Superfamily Colubroidea  


Colubridae (colubrid snakes)  




Pituophis (pine, gopher, and bullsnakes)  

This species was formerly classified as Pituophis melanoleucus. In 1995 the Louisiana pine snake was recognized as a subspecies, P. m. ruthveni. Mitrocondrial DNA analysis in 2000 showed that the species should be split into four distinct species; pine snake (P. melanoleucus), gopher snakes and bullsnake (P. catenifer), Louisiana pine snake (P. ruthveni), and cape gopher snake (P. vertebralis).


Subordinate Taxa


bull snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Great Basin gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)

Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

San Diego gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens)

San Martin gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer fulginatus)

Santa Cruz gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer pumilus)

Sonoran gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis)




Coluber catenifer

Elaphis reticulatus

Pituophis catenifer

Pituophis heermanni

Pituophis melanoleucus sayi

Pituophis wilkesii

Pityophis hæmatois


Common Names


gopher snake








Visitor Photos

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Mike B.


I believe this to be an example of the bullsnake subspecies.

    gopher snake   gopher snake  

Jeff LeClere

    gopher snake      

Nancy Falkum


Yesterday, May 21, 2022 at KWD South Unit, if you look closely you will find the Bull snake. First one I have seen in a couple of years at the dunes.

  gopher snake  
    gopher snake   gopher snake  
    gopher snake      

Christa Rittberg


Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

    gopher snake      





Pituophis catenifer sayi
Jake Scott
  Pituophis catenifer sayi  


Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake)
  Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake)  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Uploaded on Feb 7, 2011

* Family: Colubridae,
* Subfamily: Colubrinae,
* Genus: Pituophis,
* Species: P. catenifer,
* Subspecies: P. c. sayi,
* Phylum: Chordata,
* Class: Reptilia,
* Order: Squamata,
* Suborder: Serpentes,
* Type: Reptile,
* Diet: Carnivore,
* Size: Exceed 8 feet (2.4 m) in length,
* Weight: no data,
* Avarege lifespan in the wilds: Estimated at 10 years,
** Pituophis catenifer sayi, is a large non-venomous colubrid snake,It is a subspecies of the Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer).

More info:

  Bullsnake Field Observations - Bull Snake
Reptile and Amphibian Video

Uploaded on Oct 25, 2007

A pair of bullsnakes, aka bull snakes in an Iowa sand prairie.

Orry Martin

Uploaded on Mar 29, 2010

My name is Orry Martin: The Texas Snake Hunter. This is the Bullsnake which is a close relative to the Sonoran Gopher snake of Texas. These snakes are famous for their ability to exhale air past a flap in their throats to produce a loud hissing/rattle sound. All of the snakes in this film were released unharmed and were captured strictly for educational purposes and photography. All pictures were taken by me on my Nikon D200.

  Colorado Bullsnake (Gopher Snake) in the Wild
Matt Abraxas

Published on May 6, 2013

The Colorado Bull Snake, or Gopher Snake, (Pituophis catenifer sayi) is one of the largest snakes indigenous to Northern America. In this short documentary clip, self-proclaimed British Naturalist, Matt Abraxas, reveals the secret life of a male Colorado Bullsnake while it searches for an ellusive mate.

  Backroad Reptiles Episode 4: Mess with the Bull, You Get the Horns

Published on Sep 24, 2013

Aaron comes across a large, angry bull snake (pituophis catenifer sayi) crossing a busy backroad. Enjoy the video and follow us on instagram at backroadreptiles!




Visitor Sightings

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Be sure to include a location.
  Mike B.

Location: Sherburne County

I believe this to be an example of the bullsnake subspecies.

gopher snake  
  Nancy Falkum

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit



gopher snake

  Jeff LeClere

Location: Yellow Medicine County

gopher snake

  Christa Rittberg

Location: Chisago County, MN

Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

gopher snake  




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