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What is a Sonoran Gopher Snake

Venture into the arid landscapes of the southwestern United States to explore the world of the Sonoran Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis). This impressive and adaptable reptile is known for its burrowing habits and crucial role in controlling rodent populations, showcasing the intricate balance of desert ecosystems.

What is a Sonoran Gopher Snake

Sonoran Gopher Snake Overview

The Sonoran Gopher Snake is a large, nonvenomous snake endemic to the southwestern United States. It is a subspecies of the gopher snake, known for its rodent-hunting prowess and adaptability to various environments.

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What is a Sonoran Gopher Snake

A large Sonoran gopher snake gliding on the valley floor amongst fallen leaves

Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Pituophis
  • Species: P. catenifer
  • Subspecies: P. c. affinis​1

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Size and Body Description

Sonoran Gopher Snakes are quite large, with adults averaging 4.17 to 6.00 feet in total length, and the maximum recorded length being 7.68 feet. They are characterized by saddle-shaped dorsal blotches that are reddish-brown, with dark brown or blackish blotches near and on the tail​2​.

Length

4.17 to 6.00 feet

Diet

They primarily feed on small rodents, aligning with their common name​4​.

Reproduction

This snake is oviparous, with adult females laying 7-22 eggs in July or August. The eggs average 51 mm × 35 mm, and hatchlings are about 15.5 inches long​3​.

Range

The Sonoran Gopher Snake predominantly inhabits the Sonoran Desert ecosystem in the Southwest USA and extends into northern Mexico​6​.

Where Found

These snakes are found from central Texas across the Southwestern United States to southeastern California, Arizona, and into northern Mexico​5​.

How Long Do Sonoran Gopher Snakes Live

The specific lifespan of Sonoran Gopher Snakes in the wild is not well documented, but similar species typically live for several years.

Diet

They primarily feed on small rodents, aligning with their common name​4​.

Protection

Information on their conservation status is limited, but they are not currently listed as endangered.

In conclusion, the Sonoran Gopher Snake is a key player in the ecological balance of desert environments, controlling rodent populations and demonstrating remarkable adaptations to its habitat. Its presence underscores the diverse and intricate web of life in desert ecosystems, highlighting the need for ongoing conservation efforts

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What is a Sonoran Gopher Snake