The gopher snake is a common snake found throughout North America. The bull snake (which is generally regarded its own species) is the largest variety, and it is one of nine Gopher Snake subspecies. Gopher snakes are adaptive, tough, and abundantly available.
Gopher snakes are escape artists and must be kept in a very secure environment. Rack system tubs work just as well for them as for reptile terrariums since floor space is more vital to them than height. Hatchlings can be started in six-quart tubs or five-gallon tanks, but they will need to be upgraded after a few months. A 20 gallon tank is ideal for rearing snakes.
Adults of smaller species can live in 30 gallon tanks, but larger species thrive in four-foot-long cages. Because they are so active, they require slightly more space than other similar sized snakes, but they will take advantage of any extra area you give them and can make excellent display animals!
Keep in mind that your snake is cold-blooded and must physically go to a cooler or warmer region to adjust its body temperature, so make sure it has a variety of places to select from.
Although gopher snakes do not require any particular UVB or UVA lighting, the amount of light they perceive can influence their feeding and breeding behavior. When a snake observes outside light from a window, it will recognize that the days are getting shorter and may cease eating to prepare for the impending winter. This form of cycle is beneficial if you want to breed them in the spring, but it may be prevented if you provide them with at least twelve hours of light per day.
Gopher snakes prefer a dry environment and should not require any additional humidity until they begin their shed cycle. A snake kept in a shed will grow reclusive, and its scales will become hazy and dull. When you see this, give your snake a humid hide box filled with damp paper towels or moss.
Substrates ranging from paper cage liners to wood shavings can be employed, although gopher snakes prefer to dig and are most content with a thick layer of loose particle bedding. Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding is the finest choice, but you can also provide your snake with tubes to slither through if they are wide enough and made of a safe material. Avoid oily, odorous woods like pine and cedar.
Gopher snakes are busy during the day, and they are quite curious creatures who enjoy exploring new things in their habitats. Most are perfectly placid and allow themselves to be handled without complaint. Those who do protest, on the other hand, do it very loudly, thanks to their epiglottal keel, a particular neck flap that vibrates on exhale.
The hiss, combined with the way they pull their body up high, flatten their head into a triangular form, and rattle their tail against the ground, is all part of their great performance to trick you into thinking they are a hazardous rattle snake. If you play their bluff and pick them up, they will most likely switch tactics and focus on emitting a foul-smelling musk while fleeing.
Gophers rarely bite in defense, despite the fact that they have little teeth and are capable. Hatchlings, in particular, can be snappy, but constant handling eventually calms most snakes down. When held, they tend to stay active, but you may keep them in place by alternating your hands underneath them as they move. As they aren’t always the finest climbers, make sure to support their weight for them.
Despite their timid nature, gopher snakes are a hardy breed that doesn’t often get sick. But there are a few diseases to watch out for:
- Respiratory infection: Symptoms of wheezing, drooling, and general lethargy
- Mouth rot: Saliva bubbles and inflammation around your snake’s mouth,
- Fungal infection: Cause problems shedding and discoloration of the skin.
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