Now that spring and warmer weather is officially here, we’re all on the lookout for Crotalus oreganus, or as it’s more commonly known here in Contra Costa County, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake. They’re more active at this time of year, especially during mornings or evenings.
The Pituophis catenifer, or gopher snake, whose general coloration and behavior mimics a rattlesnake, is often mistaken for its poisonous relative, but it can easily be distinguished from a rattlesnake by the lack of black and white banding on its tail, and by the shape of its head, which is narrower than a rattlesnake's. It’s also typically much longer.
And thankfully, the gopher snake is harmless.