Sonoran Gopher SnakeFamily: Colubridae Pituophis cateniferPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
The Sonoran Gopher Snake is an albino form of the Gopher Snake and is a very robust snake.
The Sonoran Gopher Snakes generally do not bite, but if not yet tame they will hiss loudly and squirm a lot until tamed with gentle handling. A good pet for someone who wants a big snake as they are larger than a rat snake or a kingsnake. The Sonoran gopher snake is very hardy and easy to maintain.
For more Information on keeping Snakes see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Herptile
Distribution: The Gopher Snake is found in North America, specifically in the western part of the United States from southern British Colombia to Baja California. The Sonoran Gopher Snake ranges in southeastern California, all the way east into western New Mexico.
The genus Pituophis is represented in the pet hobby in three species:
- Gopher Snake - P. catenifer found in the western states.
- Pine Snake- P. melanoleucus found in the southeast and Gulf states.
- Bull Snake, P. c. sayi found in the Midwest.
Description: This snake will grow to between four and six feet, the males average 4-4.5 feet, females 5-6 feet. They have the general appearance of a rat snake, though much heavier bodied. They also have a beaked appearance a somewhat recessed lower jaw, adaptations for burrowing. The natural color of the gopher snake ranges in variegated shades of white, brown, and black. The scales are heavily keeled.
Feeding: They are a constrictor and their diet consists of mice, small rats and chicks. Feed once or twice a week, depending on the size of the food and the size of the snake. As you get to know your snake, you'll learn what its feeding needs are. Fresh water in a shallow dish should always be available.
Environment: They are best kept singly except when they are being bred.
The Sonoran Gopher Snake needs to be housed in a desert or woodland type terrarium. They are burrowers, so a sand substrate is good for them See the terrarium set-ups described under Basic Reptile and Amphibian Care for more information. The terrarium needs to be a 20 gallon size or larger, and the snake will need a hiding place and a small water dish. They also likes to climb, so a vertical or semi-vertical tree limb with some plant vining is great.
Temperature and Lighting requirements: They do well at 77° - 86° F (25° - 30° C) in the daytime. Full spectrum lighting is important for your snakes well being and its long-term maintenance. You can use a substrate heating device for basic heating. For additional heat, you can add a full spectrum incandescent daytime bulb and a blacklight bulb or red incandescent bulb for nighttime heating. Be sure you use a thermometer so you don't let the terrarium become overheated!
For more detailed information see the Basic Reptile and Amphibian Care: Housing.
Breeding/Reproduction: These snakes lay ten to 20 eggs about the size of a small chicken egg. They will be deposited under a log, a stump or a rock pile. The hatchlings are about 15 inches (38.10 cm) long and resemble the coloring and patterning of their parents.