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What kind of snake?

This little guy was in our house last night, I was able to safely get it outside and it immediately slithered into a gopher hole. This morning I was able to get a couple of pictures as it came out. The coloring and tail indicate gopher snake to me, although its head looks too triangular. Also there is no baby rattler "nub" at the end of the tail where its rattle would be growing. So rattler or gopher? 

Ryan, Noleta - February 21, 2021

Curator Response

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for sharing this interesting case with us. As you suspected from the coloring and tail, you rescued a San Diego Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer annectens). The surprisingly triangular head in that photo may be a result of the snake feeling threatened. The species can flatten its head (which they can do because their jaw bones are loosely connected), and/or open its mouth wide and hiss as a threat display. They can also rattle their tail in the dirt and dry leaves to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake's rattle.

Stay curious,

Curator Emeritus of Vertebrate Zoology Paul Collins, M.A.

Ryan response:

Thank you so much for the response and putting my wife at ease that we did NOT have a rattlesnake in our home! She wouldn't take my word for it! 

-Ryan