Friendly Predators- Gopher Snakes


I know this might freak some people out but snakes can be wonderful additions to your homestead. In our area there are two types of snakes that are the “good guys” to have around. The California King Snake and the Pacific Gopher Snake. Both are good for hunting mice and gophers but the king snake is my favorite because they also will deter and eat rattlesnakes. Since we also have rattlesnakes in our area, I welcome king snakes on our homestead. In fact, if we find a gopher snake or a king snake on the road somewhere we will catch it and bring it home to our property. Both of these snakes are usually docile. I have never met a mean King snake but I have encountered angry Gopher snakes.

I have always had a love for snakes. Yes, I am that strange girl that always jumped at the chance at holding the snake at the zoo field trip. I am not sure why I like them so much. They are easy pets to take care of and they don’t require much attention.  Growing up I had a gopher snake I named Gilbert. He was a nice snake. He ended up getting lost in our house once. I was so upset. Then my sister found him, caught him and put him back in his cage. It was very daring of her since she did not like snakes. I was so happy but Gilbert wasn’t. He turned mean for some reason. He would strike at me when I went to pick him up. I thought maybe he had gotten a taste of freedom and just didn’t want to be in captivity anymore. My mom and I took little Gilbert to a nice spot in the desert  and let him go. A few weeks later, I find another snake in my house and it was Gilbert! Turns out that snake my sister so bravely picked up wasn’t even my snake…lol. I love that memory. We lived across the street from a vacant field and sometimes critters would get into the house. Maybe Gilbert was really a Juliet and her Romeo was trying to find her :).

A few days ago my husband was mowing and nearly ran over this guy.


I am still that strange girl that jumps at the chance at holding snakes. While my husband starred at him from a distance, I grabbed him carefully out the hole he was trying to escape in to. My husband thinks I am strange too. I picked this guy up by the head because even though Gopher snakes are usually docile, I didn’t want to take a chance. A bite from him would have hurt. This is biggest Gopher snake we have seen in our area. A definite keeper for the homestead. I expect he can eat a lot of gophers, mice, squirrels and rabbits.

After taking a few pictures, explaining to our youngest the difference between a gopher snake and a rattle snake (reminding her to never pick up any wild snake because they can still bite) we measured him and let him go on our property. I hope he stays close by.

What are your feelings on helpful predators such as the gopher snake? 


4 Responses to “Friendly Predators- Gopher Snakes”

  • Snakes (any snake) don’t have a chance on my homestead. Hubby doesn’t tolerate any of them. I’m not a fan either. My question is this: How does a snake tell the difference between good prey and bad prey? What I’m saying is; that same snake that will eat gophers will also eat chickens. More so, due to the fact that chickens are easier prey. True? What’s your thoughts?

  • Mona:

    There are many predators that are beneficial to a homestead. They are very useful for keeping down the rodent population. More so that most of us realize. During none hibernation months one snake could eat probably around 3-6 rodents(depending on size of snake and rodent) every two weeks. When you think one pregnant mouse can give birth to up to 12 babies then one snake could take out a family of mice in one meal. Snake in most areas of the US are burrowers so most of their pray is underground. And unless you live in a Rain Forrest you are not likely going to get a snake big enough to eat a chicken. In fact, chickens are predators to small snakes. And it most cases deter snakes if anything. So you don’t have to worry about snakes eating your chickens. There have been cases of domesticated pet pythons getting loose and eating dogs and cats but it’s not a common occurrence.
    The key is to become familiar with none venomous snakes in your area. If you are killing snakes that deter venomous snakes such as the King Snakes then you could be creating a haven for venomous snakes. I would encourage you and your husband to do some research on the good snakes in your area. Most of the time it are very easy to tell the difference between the two.
    I hope I answered your question :). Thanks for stopping by!

  • misty A.:

    I looked up this website bc I recently cought a gofer snake in my yard he’s seems pretty friendly but when I cought him he tryed to bite twice I assume he was scard though. Hes not my first before I had a beautiful rosey bowa names shytech. I had her cor about2 years untill she died the day after my birthday ….I was veary devastated bc I loved her a lot . But ur not the only one who loves snakes.:-]

  • Mona:

    I used to have a Rosie boa for a while.

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