gopher snake

(Pituophis catenifer)

Conservation Status
gopher snake
Photo by Christa Rittberg
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable

     
  Minnesota

Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need

     
           
 
Description
 
 

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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

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.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

This 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.

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

10 to 25 years

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

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

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

6, 7, 11, 14, 24, 29, 72, 74.

 
  9/16/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

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

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

Family

Colubridae (colubrid snakes)  
 

Subfamily

Colubrinae  
 

Genus

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)

Cape gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer vertebralis)

central Baja California gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer bimaris)

Coronado Island gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer coronalis)

Credos Island gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer insulanus)

Great Basin gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)

Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)

San Diego gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens)

San Martin Island gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer fulginatus)

Santa Cruz gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer pumilis)

Sonoran gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Coluber catenifer

Elaphis reticulatus

Pituophis mexicanus

Pituophis wilkesii

Pityophis heermanni

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

gopher snake

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Christa Rittberg

 
 

Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

 
    gopher snake      
           
 
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Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
tomb0171
 
   
 
About

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullsnake

 
  Bullsnake Field Observations - Bull Snake
Reptile and Amphibian Video
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 25, 2007

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

 
  Bullsnake
Orry Martin
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

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
backroadreptiles
 
   
 
About

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!

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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  Christa Rittberg
6/9/2017

Location: Chisago County, MN

Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

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