San Diego Gopher Snake
Pituophis catenifer annectens
While sometimes referred to as "garter snake" or "garden snake", this species is actually properly called a gopher snake. It can be easily distinguished from the other most commonly seen snake in our area, the California king snake, by its more complex pattern of golden browns and yellows. Do not mistake this snake for a rattlesnake (which is not typically seen here), even though it (and the king snake as well) can be prone to rattle its tail! This is simply a defensive behavior that is seen in many snakes without rattles (though it can make a rattling sound against dry leaves or grass).
While adults are most often seen in spring and early summer, juveniles are more often seen in the fall after hatching. Make sure to watch out for them crossing the road as you drive around campus, so we can keep these beautiful, gentle creatures safe!
Photo Credit: Amanda Sparkman (1,2)