Snake Identification

Asked August 5, 2018, 4:25 PM EDT

Please identify the attached photo of a snake. I found him in our garden on Saturday evening. I think he was under plants and got doused when the water sprayers went off. I did nothing to provoke him, but he was agitated--coiled and in striking pose. No rattling or rattles on tail, but the triangular head made me think he is not harmless. He is about two feet long. I believe his eyes are round. We live between Terrebonne and Sisters on flat, high-desert land. We have lived here about five years, and I have seen snakes with this coloration, but they had smaller, rounded heads. As with all snakes that get too close to our house, I scooped him up with shovel and relocated him to a more distant part of our property. Thank you very much for your help!

Deschutes County Oregon

1 Response

Great Photo!

That is a Pituophis catenifer or Gopher snake. When approached, they will raise up to a striking position, flatten their head into a triangular shape, hiss loudly and shake its tail at you. And while they may strike, these are purely defensive behaviors that cause them to be mistaken quite often for rattlesnakes.

They young ones will eat insects and lizards and the adults mostly eat rodents. So they are great to have around for pest control.

Kudos to you for not killing it.