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Snakes in a Tree!

Who knew gopher snakes climb trees? We learned that they could when my husband saw one climb (slither?) up our backyard orange tree.
On a recent afternoon, my husband and daughter discovered a large snake winding its way along a backyard path of our suburban home. The snake apparently tired of having its picture taken and slowly made its escape up our orange tree. Based on the snake’s markings, my husband concluded that it was a California Night Snake, which is described as mildly venomous, but not dangerous to humans. You can imagine my surprise when I was told that we had a venomous tree snake in our backyard! On further research and consultation with the California Academy of Sciences’ Herpetology Department, however, we learned that our snake was merely a “garden-variety” gopher snake.

I am used to see gopher snakes out in the field, but not in a truly suburban environment. Since then, however, I have learned that gopher snakes one of the more common snakes in California. They are often seen around human dwellings, including suburban backyards, because they are attracted to rodents in the area.

Wait. Attracted to rodents? What rodents?! Alas, within two days, we found out when we spotted a rat raiding our bird feeder. Ugh. Now we have given up filling our bird feeders (which I miss quite a bit) and are trying to be better about picking up fallen fruit, and we are rooting for our tree-climbing gopher snake to do its job. Even though we haven’t seen the snake since that one day, we can’t persuade our children to pick oranges anymore!

References:
http://www.saczoo.org/document.doc?id=356
http://www.californiaherps.com/identification/snakesid/gophersnakes.id.html

Gopher snake (photos by Erin Mahaney)
Gopher snake (photos by Erin Mahaney)

Snake making its way onto the tree.
Snake making its way onto the tree.

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Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:22 PM
Tags: gopher snake (1), Snakes (1), tree (2)

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