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Pacific Gophersnake

Pituophis catenifer catenifer

Family: Colubridae

The Pacific Gophersnake is a subspecies of the Gophersnake (Pituophis catenifer).

COSEWIC status:
  • Extirpated
SARA status:
  • Extirpated
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


The Pacific Gophersnake is a large, heavy-bodied snake which may reach 2 m in total length. It is cream or yellowish with dark black, brown or reddish rectangular blotches down the back alternating with blotches on the sides to form a checkered pattern. On some individuals, the blotches on the back may be fused to those on the sides. A dark line runs across the head in front of the eyes and two lines extend from each eye to the mouth: one straight down from the eye and the other toward the back of the mouth. The belly is cream coloured with brown markings, often forming a checkered pattern. The scales are keeled.

Similar Species

This species no longer occurs in Canada


This species no longer occurs in Canada. In the U.S. the Pacific Gophersnake occurs along the pacific coast from Washington south to Los Angeles. The seven sub-species of Gophersnake are widely distributed throughout North American and occur in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the western and central U.S. east to Indiana and south northern Mexico.


This species inhabits open habitats such as grasslands and fields, woodlands, open pine forests, scrubland, and rocky habitats. Gophersnakes hibernate, often communally with other snake species, in talus slopes and crevices in rocky habitat. This species lays its eggs on south facing slopes in mammal burrows or burrows excavated in loose sand and under rocks or logs. Rocks, deadfall, shrubs and other cover are important microhabitats that are used for shelter and thermoregulation.


Gophersnakes mate in the spring and females lay an average of 11 eggs in mid-summer. The young hatch in August or early September and are 20–50 cm in length. Males of this species reach maturity in one to two years and females in three to five years, and individuals can live for more than 30 years. Gophersnakes primarily eat small mammals, especially rodents, and in doing so they provide excellent pest control around farms and human settlements. They also eat birds, birds' eggs, lizards and invertebrates. They are primarily active during the day but during very hot weather they may seek out underground retreat sites and become more active at night. Gophersnakes often travel large distances (> 1 km) between their hibernation site and summer habitat. When threatened, Gophersnakes may hiss loudly, vibrate their tail and rear up.


Throughout their North American range, threats include habitat loss, road mortality and human persecution.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada