Pituophis catenifer
Gopher Snake

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What's the difference between a bullsnake and a gophersnake?
Range: Found all across the state except in the highest of mountains. The subspecies integrade with each other on the edges.
Other Names: Blowsnake
Subspecies: Sonoran Gopher Snake P. c. affinis: Rostral sharply rounded in front, raised only slightly, if at all, above nearby scales. 34-63 anteriorly unconnected, biconcave saddles, brown or rusty anteriorly (black in montane areas) and darkening toward rear. 9-21 tail blotches. Bases of anterior interblotch scales dark. Nape tan or yellow with small black spots. 31 or 33 (29-35) midbody scale rows.
Great Basin Gopher Snake P. c. deserticola: Snout blunt, rostral slightly rounded. 43-71 quadrangular body blotches, black anteriorly and dark to reddish brown toward rear, joined on neck, and to secondary blotches on sides of neck often forming a lateral dark band, leaving interspaces as pale dorsal blotches. 12-22 black tail spots. Dark keels on anterior interblotched spaces. Ground color cream to yellow. Nape pale in south, heavily mottled in north. Thirty-one (27-35) midbody scale rows.
Bullsnake P. c. sayi: Rostral narrow, much higher than wide, raised well above nearby scales. Snout somewhat pointed when viewed from above. 33-66 black, brown or rusty body blotches, 9-19 black tail spots. Bases of light interblotch scales dark. Ground color pale to light yellow. Nape heavily spotted with black. 29-37 midbody sale rows
Description: One of the longest, if not the longest snake found in New Mexico, they can reach lengths of seven feet or more. Large adults are usually around four feet. I found an individual over six feet long in Socorro County, I know of a specimen found in West Texas that was over eight feet long. These snakes have a yellowish tan base color with brownish to reddish and sometimes black blotches. Night Snakes have vertical pupils.
Similar Species: Blotched young of racers resemble Gopher Snakes, but they have smooth scales and large eyes. Glossy snakes have smooth scales and two prefrontals and don't attain the large size of Gopher Snakes.
Venom: None
Habitat: A very diverse amount of habitats, they thrive statewide in pretty much all areas except the high mountain peaks
Behavior: These snakes can be very gentle and they can be very defensive as well. They will commonly coil up and hiss when agitated. They will shake their tail which can sound very much like a rattlesnake to the untrained ear. They will flatten out their heads into a triangular shape. They also have a modified epiglotus which will vibrate while they are hissing. They usually calm down when handled, but can and will bite. This will vary among individuals.
Hibernation: These snakes will seek out hibernacula in the fall. This can include many things but usually involves rock crevices or deep rodent burrows. They are known to den cummunally with other species of snakes. I have found them in the same dens as Prairie Rattlesnakes, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Coachwhips and Striped Whipsnakes.
Reproduction: Egg-layers, they mate in early spring and lay eggs about 30 days later. The eggs incubate for about 60 days before hatching.
Diet: A variety of small mammals including mice, rats, gophers, squirrels, rabbits, etc. They will also take birds and their eggs. They will also eat other lizards and occasionally other snakes.