On the 15th of March, as we were driving home from Hot Springs Beach, I saw what looked like a large shadow stretching across the road. But wait, there was nothing casting the shadow and it was 12:30pm, a time when the sun is high and there are few shadows. How could this be possible?
Well, that is a bit of a trick question. If you know what my columns are about, you can probably guess the answer.
Cape Gopher Snakes (Pituophis vertebralis) are beautiful, big and, in my experience, friendly serpents. They are completely harmless, though they can hiss and shake their tail when threatened, which can be intimidating.
Their coloration is striking. Starting at the head, they have orange-ish bands that fade to black at the tail. The picture below will help to identify them. Gopher snakes can get quite large; the individual in the photo is an impressive 5 feet in length.
As for their diet, they will eat rodents, birds, bird eggs and sometimes even lizards, but I think they prefer rodents. This makes them great for pest control! If you see one of these awesome snakes near your house, I’d say let it stay, as they are harmless. Around here, they are active year round and, interestingly, will be out during the day in both winter and spring, and at night in the summer and fall.