Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It Was A Brown Snake

Round pupils, large scales between the eyes, black line through the eye, brown rectangular blotches arranged longways across the body, often shiny, head usually only slightly wider then neck = Pacific gopher snake.   
On April 20, I was happy to see the round pupils of a long gopher snake sunning on the gravel in front of the barn. Almost every year I see a long gopher snake in the Dipper farmyard and often it has a reddish color. Same one? I don't know but I just leave these shiny harmless beauties alone and call it/them Stellarosa after a former admired co-worker. Now, years later, I see billboards of a wine called Stella Rosa and it's confusing to me as I drive down the highway and see my fabulous snake name on a wine bottle in the city. I guess if I can put photos of a snake on the annual walnut label then they can . . . no, this is just too disturbing that they can ruin a perfectly good snake name like that.

A "cornered" gopher snake. Can you find the sharp tip of the tail?   
On May 29, I spotted the coil of a brown snake slip back under the barn door when the vibrations from my footsteps travelled that way. Wide brown rectangles across its back. Peeking in the barn door, I was relieved to find a long gopher snake trying to disguise itself as a wooden corner stud. Maybe the same one that I saw in April and in previous years. It was too dark to tell if this was the reddish one I call Stellarosa and I decided to leave it be.

Looooong and trim and brown.   
I have been dropping hints in these 2015 snake posts about the differences between rattlesnakes and gopher snakes, but you can go here to get an illustrated description and a fun quiz to take afterwards. There are other brown snakes in our area that can also be confused with rattlesnakes and as a result are indiscriminately killed - see the end of this post for ways to tell these brown snakes apart.

Next up is a luckless racer.


Pacific Gopher SnakePituophis catenifer catenifer

Northern Pacific RattlesnakeCrotalus oreganus oreganus

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