Friendly snakes, don't tread on me!

gopher snake
Photo credit: Anonymous
Q:

We saw this snake on a hike in Lebanon. What kind of snake is this?

- Linn County, Oregon
A:

This is a beautiful gopher snake. A non-venomous and fairly common resident of the Valley and the state as a whole.

Unfortunately, they can sometimes try to bluff a “predator” and hiss and strike out. That behavior and their resemblance to the Pacific rattlesnake cause them to suffer an undue amount of human predation. Basically, people constantly mis-identify them as rattlesnakes and then kill them. Not only is that a shame in general, but they are completely harmless and are actually very important in keeping gopher and mole populations in check, so people would be better served by leaving them alone.

Robert T. Mason
Professor and Chair Biology Program
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