The large, robust gopher snake is found in a variety of habitats and is a good climber and burrower. Its head is small and somewhat pointed and, although the coloration varies in the many subspecies over its wide range, most gopher snakes have pale bodies with black, brown or reddish markings.
Usually active by day, the snake may become nocturnal in hot weather. It feeds largely on rodents, as well as on rabbits, birds and lizards, all of which it kills by constriction - throwing its powerful body coils around the victim until it suffocates. It may burrow underground for shelter or take over mammal or tortoise burrows. If alarmed, the gopher snake flattens its head, hisses loudly and vibrates its tail before attacking the enemy.
Gopher snakes mate in spring and the female lays up to 25 eggs in a burrow or beneath a rock or log. The young hatch in 9 to 11 weeks and are up to 17.75 in (45 cm) long on hatching.
Range: S.W. Canada; USA: W. and C. states, Florida; Mexico.
Habitat: Dry woodland, grassland, prairies, rocky desert.
Size: 4 - 8.25 ft (1.2 - 2.5 m).