Gopher Snake Near Sandpiper Golf Course
By Robert Bernstein
For months my wife has been telling me about her sightings of snakes on Ellwood Mesa near our home. I go out there often and have been more vigilant to see them since she told me of her sightings. Believe it or not I did manage to see a couple when I forgot to bring my camera!
Finally this week I saw one at the far western end of Ellwood Mesa near the Sandpiper Golf Course. Here are my photos.
When the snake became aware of my presence it slithered toward what appeared to be a gopher hole. Very appropriate as it appears to be a gopher snake!
Specifically, it is probably a San Diego Gopher Snake. It looks very similar to the Pacific Gopher Snake, but it is a bit more orange than brown. And looking at a range map the San Diego Gopher Snake is native to our area. Here is some information from CaliforniaHerps.com.
The snake had recently swallowed some creature and had a large bulge to show for it. Probably a gopher or a rat. This made it fairly lethargic. Here you can clearly see that bulge!
I gently stroked its side which made it look up at me with curiosity.
I did not want to disturb it any more as it needs to rest in order to eat. It slowly slithered off into the brush to finish its meal in peace!
Gopher snakes are easily confused with rattlesnakes as they are similar in appearance. If in doubt, avoid getting too close. Rattlesnakes obviously have rattles at the end of their tails, but on rare occasion these can be lost.
Snakes are an important part of our natural ecosystem and they are very vulnerable. They cannot move very fast and are really quite defenseless if a human wants to harm them. Too many people act out of fear instead of out of a sense of appreciation and understanding. If you see a snake, you can admire it or just walk away. The snake means you no harm. You are not food so you are generally of little interest to a snake.
Just remember that "man's best friend" is far more dangerous to humans than any snake!
I am always grateful for the rare chance to see a snake!