A question for the resident herpetologists


Original Post
Dan G0D5H411 · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,948

A few weeks ago, a friend and I ran into a juvenile snake near the base of the Contest Wall in Sand Gulch at Shelf Road.  We moved it away from our area (it was extremely non-aggressive during the relocation), but a couple of hours later we found it back in its original spot.  Wondering if anyone can identify what type of snake it is and if the belay area should be regarded as suspect if it's a juvenile rattler.   Thanks for any insight.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

I'm not a herpatologists, but I do love snakes.  It looks like a bull snake/rat snake based on the shape of its head.  Not a rattler.  Non venomous.  You may have moved it from its home.  Seems reasonable that it found its way back.  We are in there home.  We need to do our best to let them be.  

David A · · Amsterdam, Netherlands · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 260

Not an actual herper, but spend lots of time with some. Greg got it right, it's a bull snake aka gopher snake. Can be aggressive at times but totally harmless. 

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

We saw a much larger version of that snake at the Piggy Bank some years ago. I was slithering parallel to the trail downhill while keeping distance from everyone.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

Rattlesnakes are never "extremely non-aggressive" when being relocated. If it's buzzing like a hive of bees it's a rattler ;)

Dan G0D5H411 · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,948

Thanks for the responses, my first guess was bullsnake too but I wanted to verify.   We had to move this little guy while we cleaned some very large and very dangerous blocks off of a route.   We were quite surprised to see him return later in the day, hiding amongst the new pile of rocks near the base.

timt · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 50

I'm not so sure I agree.  I'd be 100% with another angle, but I am leaning towards Western hognose.  Definitely not a rattlesnake.... babies may not yet have a "rattle" though so never assume it isnt one unless you're 100%.  I will briefly get on my soapbox & STRONGLY discourage anyone from moving a potentially venomous snake. Over 90% of bites occur when people either attempt to move or harm a snake.  As someone who has worked with venomous snakes for 20 years, I can attest that handling venomous snakes is not as easy as the tv & interweb make it look & remember it just has to touch you.

Also, hospitals pay well over $1000/vial for CroFab antivenom & bites I know of in CO take 10-20 vials in addition to 3 days in ICU.  Not worth the risk! 

Be safe out there.  With our warm winter there should be lots of rattlesnakes out there.

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

This little feller helped set up a top rope, Okie snakes are the best! Is he a western diamond back or a fun loving prairie rattler? He was about 6' long. JB

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

Upon closer inspection, I don't believe that is a bull snake.  The pattern on its back is not that of a bull snake.  Maybe timt is correct.  

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

Tim is right, it's a hognose aka "Texas rooter" or "bluffer"  They taste just like rattlers, which taste just like chicken (except a little fishy) which taste just like alligator.

I have a go-to reptile recipe if anybody needs it............... ;)

Christian Nunes · · Lyons, CO · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 15

What you have here is a Night Snake. They're typically rather secretive, spending most of their time under rocks and other debris. You're lucky to have found it out and about! If you concentrate on the plain head pattern with those contrasting dark blotches on the neck you'll see how it differs from Bull and Hognose Snakes. Compare to this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/christian_nunes/4577594860/in/photostream/ 

John Barritt, your top-roping rattlesnake is a Western Diamondback. The white outlines around the dark blotches on the back are a quick way to separate those from Prairie Rattlesnakes. 

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 95

I don't think that's a western hognose.  Too slender, and the head and snout are not even close to the right shape, even assuming that it's not in the defensive flattened mode.  

Gopher snakes (or bull snakes, pine snakes, blow snakes, etc.) are super common throughout the West, and can have pretty substantial variations in markings.  I've seen gopher snakes with smaller dark patches like in this pic.

Dan G0D5H411 · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,948

I doubt it was a hognose, we had a good opportunity to observe him and did not notice that peculiar feature.  After a little sleuthing last night, I think Christian may have hit upon the correct answer.  The Colorado Herpetological Society also agrees.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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