Gopher snakes are diurnal, they have thick bodies and inquisitive natures. They are a good choice for both beginner and experienced snake owners.
But if it is your first time looking after a gopher snake, how should you take care of it?
In this article, you will find a straightforward gopher snake care guide that will support you in looking after your new pet.
Make sure your gopher snake is in a terrarium that measures 4x2x2 feet. Feed it a rodent once every two weeks. Ensure the humidity in the enclosure does not exceed 60% and the temperature on the cool side stays between 70 and 75°F. The basking temperature must be at 85°F.
What must you do to ensure your bull snake remains healthy?
To find the best tip for looking after your new pet, check out the extended care guide below.
Table of Contents
Gopher Snake Care Sheet
Taking care of a gopher snake, (Pituophis catenifer) is a very rewarding task. But giving the best snake care is not easy as many people are not sure how to look after these reptiles.
Up next in this article, you’ll find a comprehensive care guide that will help you to look after your snake from the moment you pick it up from the pet shop through its entire life.
Ssslither right to it.
What Gopher Snakes Eat
One of the most important things to know about gopher snake care is what to feed these reptiles. They sure love it when supper time comes around.
What does a gopher snake eat?
The following is a list of gopher snake food, perfect for your pet.
- Small rodents like gophers (as their name suggests), rats, mice, and voles
- Birds and bird eggs
- Young guinea pigs
- Amphibians like lizards and frogs
As you can see, these reptiles have quite a few meals on their menu. But the most common meal of them all is the gophers.
Gopher Snake Temperament
Some types of pet snakes are shy while others are skittish.
What kind of temperament do gopher snakes have?
Gopher snakes tend to be defensive in temperament. This is especially the case with wild-caught snakes that are brought into captivity.
But with enough handling by their owners and time to get used to them, a gopher snake will become very tame.
Even still, your gopher snake will never warm up to you so much that it will look for your attention. They do not rely on human contact.
Gopher Snake Tank Size
Housing gopher snakes require a good amount of space so they can feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
How big must a gopher snake terrarium be?
The snake’s enclosure must measure at least 4x2x2 feet. This is just a minimum size guide, if you have the room for a large enclosure with even more floor space, make sure you get it.
Bear in mind that gopher snakes as well as other similar snakes are very skilled escape artists. So the tank you choose must have a sturdy opening and closing mechanism.
Coming up later, we’ll discuss what you must do to decorate your snake’s enclosure so it has space to hide and feels at home.
The Tank Environment
You want your new snake to settle into its environment as quickly as possible. But for that to be possible, you must set up the enclosure to suit its needs.
What kind of environment is best for your reptile?
Terrariums set to the following standards are best for gopher snakes.
- Temperature gradient. A heat lamp must keep the basking temperature in the cage at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. On the cool side of the enclosure, the temperatures must stay between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Humidity. Gopher snakes like a low to moderate humid hide. The humidity levels in its enclosure must stay below 60%.
Most normal living environments will not maintain the toasty temperatures these active snakes like. So, to mimic them, use ceramic heat emitters and place a digital thermostat on the side of the enclosure to monitor the temperature at all times.
Your snake must have a basking area that reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, it will be able to bask as it would in the wild.
How can you make the best basking spot?
Here are some tips.
- Use heat pads. Put the pads on the warm side of the enclosure with a hide over it. This will ensure the cold from underneath the terrarium does not filtrate into it.
- Use UVB lighting. This will provide your pet with the vitamin D it needs. UVB lighting can also be set to make a good day and night cycle that your pet will associate with the conditions in the wild. (Do not use blue bulbs as these are not as effective as regular UVB bulbs.)
The Substrate In Your Snake’s Enclosure
The best substrate materials for your pet will not interfere with the humidity levels in the enclosure. Put down a thick layer of substrate materials to give your snake the best burrowing experience.
Which materials are best?
- Orchid bark
- Mixes of sand and soil
- Aspen bedding
These materials are ideal as they do not hold onto humidity. They also help to promote natural burrowing behavior as they are not too tough for your snake to burrow into.
Materials such as damp sphagnum moss are good, but you must use them in moderation so they do not alter the humidity in the environment. If your substrate is too moist your snake will be at risk of developing lesions and even blister disease because of the overly damp conditions.
To make your snake feel more at home, it will need access to at least one nesting box in its enclosure.
What is the purpose of a nesting box?
Here are a few reasons why they are so important.
- Nesting boxes provide shelter for your snake. They often like to hide and take cover when they sleep and nesting boxes create the perfect cozy environment for them to do so.
- They provide partial cover from the heat. After some time basking, your snake will want to spend a while cooling off its shiny scales under cover. Make sure your terrarium contains nesting boxes and foliage with both full and partial cover to suit the changing needs of your reptile.
Housing Multiple Gopher Snakes
Some animals love companionship and move about in groups in the wild. They also like the company of their owners and other animals in captivity.
Do gopher snakes like company?
Gopher snakes are not social animals. They do not need the company of their owners and we do not recommend keeping multiple gopher snakes together or housing them with any other reptiles.
Gopher snakes will likely become aggressive towards one another so it is best you keep them separate at all times.
A lot of people like to have snakes as pets because they are easy to look after. They entertain themselves, do not need freeing for exercise, and do their business in their enclosures.
If this is your first time giving a home to a gopher snake you may wonder…
Are gopher snakes good pets?
Gopher snakes are low-maintenance pets as they only need feeding once every two weeks. They do not thrive on human interaction and are fine on their own.
If you have your gopher snake in an enclosure measuring 4x2x2 feet, it will have enough space to get all the exercise it needs inside its cage.
Spot cleaning the tank will require effort because you will have to remove the contaminated substrate from the enclosure every day. But you will only have to deep clean the enclosure once a month.
A gopher snake is often rather defensive in temperament until it gets used to its new owners and surroundings. You must be wary of your pet’s teeth.
Do gopher snakes have fangs?
Gopher snakes do not have fangs but they do have layers of small, sharp teeth. A bite from your pet snake will be extremely painful.
A gopher snake’s teeth might be lined with bacteria. When they bite you, they may transfer this bacteria to you.
If this snake bites you, you must seek medical attention immediately.
Gopher snakes may need to consume vitamins and minerals on occasion to ensure they are as healthy as possible.
What kind of supplements will they need?
Your veterinarian may recommend calcium carbonate, vitamin E, vitamin D, or vitamin B-12 supplements for your pet.
To keep on top of your snake’s needs, make sure you take it to the vet annually. There, the specialist will be able to recommend nutritional supplements for your pet if it needs them.
Gophers are very active snakes that are also very inquisitive. But like all animals, they go through periods of higher and lower activity throughout the day and months of the year.
When is this snake most active?
Bull snakes (gophers) are diurnal snakes. This means they are most active during the day and rest during the night.
In its natural habitat, this snake might only become active during the evening or at cooler times of the day because of the intense heat in the summer.
Gopher Snake Hatchlings
If there’s anything cuter than a gopher snake, it’s a baby gopher. But you cannot treat hatchlings the same way you treat adult gopher snakes.
How must you take care of hatchling snakes?
These small snakes are around 12 inches long when they hatch. After one week they will begin shedding.
Once they have shed for the first time give them their first meal. Hatchlings, unlike adults, must be fed weekly.
Feed the hatchlings the same food as you would the large snakes as they have quite an appetite. Frozen prey is ideal for them.
Get to Know the 6 Species of Gopher Snakes
There are currently 6 known species of gopher snakes in the world. Each type of snake is unique and has lots of characteristics that make it stand out from the others.
What are the 6 species of gopher snakes?
- Pacific gopher snake
- Sonoran gopher snake
- San Diego gopher snake
- California gopher snake
- Great Basin gopher snake
- Santa Cruz Island gopher snake
Fun Facts About Different Species of Gopher Snakes
Now we have identified every different species of this snake, it is time to find out the most mind-boggling facts about them.
Which of these snakes do you find the most fascinating?
- The Pacific snake (Pituophis catenifer) is spotty. There are 41 to 99 dark brown spots all over the snake’s body.
- The Pacific gopher snake is called “Pacific”. These are diurnal snakes native to the western coast of the US (where they got their name).
- Gopher snakes brumate. During this time they do not eat much and barely move for several months.
- The other snakes in this category have elongated faces, but not the Sonoran gopher snake. These have symmetrical faces that are as long as they are wide.
- You will find plenty of Sonoran gopher snakes in the Sonoran desert in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern US. Sonoran gopher snakes are native to this area.
- Gopher snakes like ball pythons and all other common snakes, are cold-blooded. This means they cannot regulate their own body temperatures. Their enclosures must be at the right temperatures for them to survive.
- This snake will use its water bowl for drinking out of but also for cooling down in when it feels too hot. It will also use its water bowl to loosen up its shedding skin.
- Gopher snakes are the longest snakes in the Grand Canyon, with some of their robust bodies measuring up to 2.3 meters in length.
Looking After Your Gopher Snake
Gopher snakes are not your average pets, and because of that it is hard to find anything other than only very basic information about these animals and how to look after them. Thanks to this article, we have seen that these snakes need to eat rodents once every two weeks, live in a 4x2x2 feet enclosure, and in an environment with moderate humidity to thrive.
They must have a basking area that reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit and hiding spots to take cover.
Did you find this article interesting?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about snakes, lizards, and other pet reptiles. For more information on the dietary needs of these animals and more, check out our website.
Thanks for reading!