Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Snake Portraits

As it has warmed up now, various snakes are making their appearances in Cuyamaca Woods. Today, Gary and I saw a very fresh, juvenile gopher snake on our walk up Starlight Way. It was stretched out on the road, and allowed some close-up shots.

Most likely the San Diego Gopher Snake, Pituophis catenifer annectens.
The gopher snake stretched out. Not a baby, but certainly not a full-sized adult either (so a teenager!)
A few days ago we observed our first rattlesnake of the season, a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri -- formerly Crotalus viridis helleri). It was peeking out between two rocks lining our path between the house and the solar shed. It was also very calm and cooperative as I took photos. It slithered back into the bushes, and we have not seen it since.

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
I have yet to see a Red Diamond Rattlesnake here in the Cuyamaca Mountains, although it seemed as common as the Southern Pacific in the foothills. And of course, the baby Speckled Rattlesnake observed by others in Cuyamaca Woods last summer was a real treat. Hopefully one will show itself this season, too!


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  2. Nice pics. Where I presently live we have no such creatures. Though I am from your neck of the Chaparral over there. Been in Sweden over 6 years so far and the only reptile I have ever seen was one of those leggless lizards making it's way across a paved road with great difficulty until it finally made it to the roadside grasses where the plants offered a bit of traction to it's slithering mode which took off like lightning after that and it was gone.

    So much of the problem down below in the urban landscape environment with gophers is a result of people demonizing these animals and getting rid of them. Glad things are moving back again through the Cuyamacas.



  3. I didn't know you had a special SD Gopher Snake! It does look quite different from ours but it could be all in the darker pigmentation on the back, with the pattern being basically similar?

  4. I only learned of the "San Diego Gopher Snake" after doing a little on-line research on their species names. I was surprised to learn that the Southern Pacific Rattler had been given a new specific epithet. I had to know all these guys in the '90s when I surveyed for them, but am behind the times now.

    We do indeed have MANY gophers up here, Kevin! A nice species that is coming back in numbers is the Merriam's Chipmunk, also.