Fun Great Basin Gopher Snake Facts For Kids

Martha Martins
May 02, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Great basin gopher snake facts about a non-venomous snake species.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

You may find snakes repulsive or disgusting, but you would start appreciating them when you know about their role in balancing the ecosystem. Without them, humanity will be doomed by another plague or a rat-bite fever.

One such snake species which predominantly feeds on rodents and saves humanity from rodents' havoc is the Great Basin gopher snake. The Great Basin gopher snake feeds on gophers and other rodents, controls their population, and saves our crops from these pests.

Because of its markings and behavior, it is often mistaken for a rattlesnake, but the most crucial difference between the two is that the gopher snakes are non-poisonous.

Their habitat ranges from rocky mountains or deserts to riparian or forest areas. This Great Basin gopher snake is also known as the Bullsnake.

Read on to enjoy more exciting facts about this one-of-a-kind species. If snakes fascinate you, check our contents on the black rat snake and western ribbon snake.

Great Basin Gopher Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Great Basin Gopher Snake?

The Great basin gopher ( Pituophis catenifer deserticola) is a non-poisonous snake.

What class of animal does a Great Basin Gopher Snake belong to?

The Great Basin gopher snake ( Pituophis catenifer deserticola) belongs to the class of Reptilia like all other snakes.

How many Great Basin Gopher Snakes are there in the world?

The exact number of Great Basin gopher snakes is unknown. But it has been placed under the Threatened category, and if appropriate measures are not taken, it can soon move to the Endangered category.

Where does a Great Basin Gopher Snake live?

This subspecies - gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) lives across the southern and western parts United States of America like Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, California, Arizona, and British Columbia in Canada.

What is a Great Basin Gopher Snake's habitat?

The gopher snake subspecies' habitat is rocky mountains, desert areas, sagebrush, shrubby areas, riparian areas, forests, and grasslands. These gopher snakes often move into burrows to protect themselves from predators and freezing at night or getting dehydrated during the day.

Who do Great Basin Gopher Snakes live with?

The Pituophis catenifer deserticola prefers to live a solitary life except during the mating season. They live alone in their underground burrows and emerge when they want to hunt for their prey.

How long does a Great Basin Gopher Snake live?

Some reports suggest that the average lifespan of this subspecies is seven years. In comparison, some reports suggest that the lifespan is between 12-15 years, and the highest recorded age in captivity is 33 years and 10 months.

How do they reproduce?

The male and female gopher snakes mate during the spring season, and the female gopher snakes lay their eggs between June to August. The females lay around 3-24 eggs, with two to eight eggs being the average.

The eggs hatch after 65-75 days, and the female doesn't incubate the eggs.

After hatching, the young snakes that emerge take care of themselves. It takes four years for the female snakes of this subspecies to reach sexual maturity, whereas it takes only one and a half years for the males to mature.

What is their conservation status?

The Basin gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) has been put under the Threatened status by COSEWIC since 2013. The reasons for its population decrease include road mortality, low reproduction rate, habitat loss, late maturity age, and poaching.

Great Basin Gopher Snake Fun Facts

What do Great Basin Gopher Snakes look like?

The average length of this Basin gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) is about 4.5 ft, but a few can grow up to 9 ft in length. The back of this gopher snake subspecies consists of dark brown or black blotches of a cream-like to yellowish color.

Sometimes, these blotches combine to form lines that run on the sides of the gopher snake's body till its tail.

The whole body is covered in keeled scales, which become smoother on the sides, and the head has a pointed shape. The underbelly is creamy with irregular dark, black blotches.

Pituophis catenifer deserticola mimics the behavior of rattlesnake species.

How cute are they?

Many people find snakes intolerable and disgusting. But some find them adorable and prefer to keep them as pets. So the answer to whether they are cute or not depends on your personal preference.

How do they communicate?

The Pituophis catenifer deserticola subspecies communicate via chemical secretions, vision, vibrations, and touch. During the mating season, the female attracts the male by releasing skin secretions, and male snakes reach the females by using their tongue or nose to smell the surroundings. They are capable of making loud hissing sounds when they feel threatened.

How big is a Great Basin Gopher Snake?

This snake Great Basin gopher is the largest snake species of British Columbia, and an adult's length ranges from 35-95 in (89-241.3 cm). Recently hatched young ones are about 11-14 in (28-35.6 cm) long.

How fast can a Great Basin Gopher Snake move?

The exact speed with which they move is unknown, but they slither away very fast with their peculiar S-shaped muscle contractions.

How much does a Great Basin Gopher Snake weigh?

The exact weight of the Great Basin snake is unknown, but it is likely to be similar to the weight of other gopher snake subspecies whose weight is in the range of 2-4 lb (0.9-1.8 lb).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female gopher snake species do not have any specific names. They are known as male gopher snakes and female gopher snakes, respectively.

What would you call a baby Great Basin Gopher Snake?

There are no specific names for the baby of the Great Basin gopher snake. Like other snakes, its baby is also known as a snakelet or hatchling or a juvenile snake, or a young gopher snake.

What do they eat?

This Great Basin gopher snake uses constriction to kill its prey. Their prey includes insects, lizards, small mammals, rabbits, birds, and eggs. Its primary diet consists of rodents like gophers, and hence it is known as a gopher snake.

Are they poisonous?

This snake, a Great basin gopher, is non-poisonous. It can attack you or hurt you only when it feels threatened and will do it only as a last resort. They can't be called friendly, but they are calm and passive even in the wild.

Would they make a good pet?

Because of its docile and calm nature, this gopher snake species is preferred by those who like to keep exotic pets. It can be easily raised even by a novice owner as it requires minimal maintenance.

An adult gopher snake would need a 30-gallon glass tank with at least 12 hours of artificial lighting. A thermal gradient in the form of a heat bulb must be provided at one end of the glass tank with an ideal temperature of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

An ideal hiding place and a freshwater bowl should be provided inside the enclosure.

The substrate should be dry and can be either wooden shavings or paper liners. The enclosure needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent any skin infections for the snake.

Food needs to be given only once a week, and make sure you don't overfeed the species. You can feed it frozen or thawed prey items or live or pre-killed rodents.

Did you know...

Some of the main predators of the Great Basin gopher snakes include foxes, hawks, and coyotes.

This snake, the Great basin gopher, can mimic a rattlesnake when it feels threatened. This subspecies will flatten its head, make loud hissing sounds and vibrate its tail rapidly, and does an excellent convincing imitation of rattlesnake species when in danger.

Where does the Great Basin Gopher Snake get its color from?

The color of the Great Basin gopher snake is a result of evolution over different centuries and is transferred via genes. The color depends on the subspecies and their location.

The color and patterns on its skin are designed in such a way that it helps the snake to blend in with its surroundings. This blending feature helps it hide from its prey while hunting and protects it from its predators.

How to tell the difference between Rattlesnakes and Great Basin Gopher Snake

Great basin gopher snakes are larger than rattlesnakes. These gopher snakes are slimmer than the rattlesnakes, with heads as slim as the rest of the body. Rattlesnakes have a wide, triangular head.

The most crucial difference is that Great Basin gopher snakes are non-venomous, whereas rattlesnakes are highly poisonous. The rattlesnake's tail will have rattles, whereas gopher snakes do not have rattles. Gopher snakes have round pupils, whereas rattlesnakes have cat-like slit pupils.

Gopher snakes compete with rattlesnakes for food and territory as they have the same diet and habitat preference. Gopher snakes help to keep the rattlesnakes away from their habitat. Gopher snakes put up a tough fight to safeguard their territory, and they can even kill a rattlesnake if the two get into a fight.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our coral snake surprising facts and kingsnake fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable great basin gopher snake coloring pages.

Great Basin Gopher Snake Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Moles, rodents, lizards, insects, birds, rabbits, and small mammals

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

2-8 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

mohave desert, grasslands, shrubby areas, forests, riparian areas, burrows

Where Do They Live?

british columbia, southern and western parts of america, nevada

How Long Were They?

2.9-7.8 ft (90-240 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Pituophis catenifer deserticola

What Do They Look Like?

Tan, yellow, or cream with reddish or dark brown patches

Skin Type

Ridged scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

coyotes, hawks, foxes, owls, eagles

What is their Conservation Status?


british columbia southern and western parts of america nevada

Get directions
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Chandan Shukla picture

Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

Read full bio >