So who said they rarely see snakes in the wild? Me? Yikes, I should have know better than that.
Today on our hike I took a little side trail because I could see some delphiniums blooming on the hillside. I was by myself and down about 20 yards from where I left Mr. A and our dog sitting in the shade.
He was so still that I thought maybe he was dead and at first I couldn’t see his head. I hollered up to my son not to come down with the dog because there was a really big snake. He wanted to know what kind because immediately we think rattlesnake when we see a big snake.
I checked his tail and didn’t see a rattle and then I moved ever so slightly closer to see if I could locate his head. Wow! He was a big snake but I did manage to see the head and it was round and not diamond shaped so I felt fairly comfortable identifying it as something other than a rattler. I am guessing that he was at least 5 feet long. I snapped a few photos so we could take a closer look once we got home and make a positive identification. I didn’t get the whole snake in the photo and I did not take a photo of his head since I did not want to get that close to a live snake.
We had done the preparation work (you can read our entry HERE) for all the snakes on our list last week so I thought it was either a kingsnake or a gopher snake. We came home and pulled out the field guide and sure enough….gopher snake or Pituophis melanoleucus. The guide says gopher snakes can be up to 7 feet long. They eat small animals such as gophers, mice, ground squirrels, and small rabbits. They squeeze their prey until movement stops and then it swallows it whole.
I found this graphic online for our future reference:
Know Your Snakes: Differences Between Gopher Snake and Rattlesnake
I knew we wanted to do more snake study but I never dreamed a subject would come our way so quickly.