In The Desert
Content including photographs are Copyright © 1997 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
Both photos courtesy of Martin Feldner
Photo courtesy of Martin Feldner
Back to Page 1 Venomous Snakes
This is the Patchnose snake. Like the Coachwhip, they are very fast. However, unlike the coachwhip, patchnose snakes are mild-mannered and reluctant to bite. I was lucky to get this close to him for the photo.
Length -- 10 to 40 inches long.
Here's a Coachwhip up in a tree eating a Dove's egg in her nest. The dove was watching and could do nothing. This snake already had ingested one egg and was getting ready to have another -- breakfast anyone? He didn't like me watching.
We caught this Coachwhip snake trying to eat our buddy; a sidebloched lizard in our front yard. They sometimes hang around houses in the desert because prey is often attracted by water or plants associated with houses. We chased him away, gently. This snake is very fast and will defend itself if grabbed by repeatedly striking and trying to bite.
Length -- 42 to 66 inches long.
This is the Gopher snake. The first video is of a dying Gopher Snake - sadly. This snake in the first video was run over by a vehicle which happens a lot to snakes when crossing roads/trails. However it is a good reference for identification. Gopher snakes will often strike at you if you get too close for their comfort. They also display behaviors of flattening their head to give it a more expanded look, sucking in air to make themselves look bigger, and shaking their tail in loose leaves and brush to sound like the rattlesnake. In the desert a lot of animals mimic others for defensive purposes. Notice the dark band across the head through the eyes. The lack of a rattle and the narrow head are all indicators that this is not a venomous snake.
Length -- 48 to 96 inches long.
This is one of the prettiest snakes in the desert. They are very docile and can usually be handled without fear of getting bit. If you do get bit remember, all wildlife (like people) have different temperaments, and any animal equipped with a mouth and teeth can bite. This was a young and very friendly one. Length -- 30 to 50 inches long.
Coastal Rosy Boa
(Lichanura trivirgata roseofusca)
(Lampropeltis getula californiae)
This kingsnake is pretty typical of California kingsnakes seen in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts and part of the Sonoran Desert. These snakes are very hardy and can be found in the coastal scrub areas to the high deserts. They spend most of their days hiding in piles of brush or refuse or in abandoned rodent burrows, coming out at night to hunt.
This kingsnake is pretty typical of California kingsnakes seen in the desert areas in Southern Baja and some parts of Arizona. Adults reach full size in 3 to 4 years of age.
Length - over 4 ft. sometimes to 6 ft.
Southern Ca. coastal slopes across the ranges into the San Diego Deserts. Mostly nocturnal, feeds on small birds, rodents, lizards, and small snakes. Other colorations are found in Baja.
Length - 17 to 44 inches.
Desert Striped Whipsnake
Long and slender they often reach lengths of 70 inches. Named "whip snake" because they resemble a leather whip. Range - entire West and Northern Mexico. See enlargement.
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Baur
We've added this photo of a Desert Striped Whipsnake for 2 reasons. One-the yellow coloration of the under belly is not visible in this photo, which might make you think that this is a different snake. Two-this gives you a better idea of the length of these snakes. Look at the enlargerment and look for the bulge.
Back to Page 2 Venomous Snakes
Photo courtesy of Bryan D. Hughes