I see this group is primarily about pet snakes, but I can't find anywhere else to ask, and I need advice about a snake (sorry for being off topic, though).
A few days ago, I went out on my back patio, and when I turned to head back inside I received quite a shock; a large snake was sitting in my (dry) pedestal fountain, just inches from the door I had come out of. It was not moving much, so after getting back up (I fell over when I leapt back :-)) I edged away to twenty feet, and watched a while. It started climbing up around a window, or trying to, but seemed to take no notice of me.I went around the house to get back in (the snake was too near the door for me to use it), grabbed my digital camera, and took some pictures out the window (the snake was looking right in at me). It didn't seem like a fast mover, so I went back around the house and shot some more pictures, and the snake climbed down, and (slowly) went into a nearby packrat burrow.

I figured this was just a chance sighting, but I've seen the snake several times a day since, always on or near that back patio (I carefully look before opening the door now, and stay twenty feet away if the snake is out there). I've also found that it seems to have a home under some planks covering a hole. I've seen it go in and out of there several times.
I took my photos and spent a while searching, and found an exact match (I'd have never managed without the photos!). So I am reasonably sure it's a Sonoran Gopher snake, about 5 1/2 foot long.

I'm barely within the reported range (Northern arizona, but at 7000 feet) due to altitude.
I've done a great deal of searching, but so far all I've found is it's not venomous, but is described as aggressive by one site, and will "strike repeatedly". It did not seem aggressive. It basically utterly ignored me. If it had wanted to strike at me, it could easily have done so that first day as I passed within inches of it before I knew it was there.
My problem is that I'm wondering how dangerous it is? It seems to be sticking around, and nowhere can I find out how bad it's bite is. I know it's not poisonous, but I know some non-poisonous snakes can have a big set of fangs and a serious bite. I'm assuming it can't be too bad as some people keep them as pets, but I'd like to know for sure.

I have no intention of harming the snake, but if it's a serious danger to have around I'll safely trap it and release it a few miles away.

On the other hand, the info I have found so far indicates it eats mice, gophers, and desert pack rats. I have too many of all of those on my property (outside, not inside, fortunately) so if the snake isn't too dangerous, I will be happy to let it stay and just be real careful before going outside. I've seen mountain king snakes on my property, (a forested mountainside, bordering a national forest) but never as much as this sonoran gopher snake. Also, the King snakes seemed to have a fear of people, while this Sonoran gopher snake seems oblivious to people (it is to me, at least, and I'm a big guy.).

Any advice would be appreciated, because I know nothing about snakes. My specific questions would be; is the snake territorial (will it stay around?) Some sites say the females are, and I think this may be female due to it's size.
How fast can it move? It seemed very slow moving, and the weather is quite warm. Is 20 ft. a safe distance? If it's a very fast mover and aggressive maybe 20ft is too close?
Also, is there any way to safely (for both me and the snake) to get it to move (just a few yards) if I need to? It came onto my patio yesterday while I was BBQing my dinner, forcing me to vacate the area. I tried stamping my feet to make ground vibrations, but the snake ignored me, and actually headed right for me and the BBQ but very slowly. By the time the snake moved on, my dinner was cinders. I considered turning a garden hose on the snake, but it was too close to the spigot by the time I thought of that. So, any suggestions for future dinner rescues?
And, any chance of a snake-proof fence (if the snake is indeed dangerous)? One of the things I use my patio for is working out with free weights, and doing that while keeping an eye peeled for the snake is kind of stressful. (the snake has already come towards me once while I was lifting, but I saw it and went indoors before it got too close.)
Thanks!
Chris
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My problem is that I'm wondering how dangerous it is? It seems to be sticking around, and nowhere can I ... assuming it can't be too bad as some people keep them as pets, but I'd like to know for sure.

It's unlikely to bite you unless you try picking it up, or if you corner it and make it feel threatened. It'll most likely give you a threat display (including hissing) first, but that's not a given.

If it was to bite, I'd guess you're looking at a similar territory to a "play" bite from a pet cat at worst, but probably not even that bad. Just dab some antiseptic on it and you'll be fine.
How fast can it move? It seemed very slow moving, and the weather is quite warm. Is 20 ft. a safe distance? If it's a very fast mover and aggressive maybe 20ft is too close?

Snakes are fast strikers, but if you're out of their strike range (up to about 3/4 of their body length), they're not particularly fast animals on land. You can cover 20 feet in the open much faster than the snake will be able to.
Also, is there any way to safely (for both me and the snake) to get it to move (just a few yards) if I need to?

You could try picking it up with a long forked stick.
It came onto my patio yesterday while I was BBQing my dinner, forcing me to vacate the area. I tried ... was too close to the spigot by the time I thought of that. So, any suggestions for future dinner rescues?

If you can pluck up the nerve, just ignore it. It'll almost certainly slither right by you. Obviously you might want to consider moving if it decides to climb the inside of your trouser-leg. ;-)
Chris J. (Email Removed) typed this:
I took my photos and spent a while searching, and found an exact match (I'd have never managed without the photos!). So I am reasonably sure it's a Sonoran Gopher snake, about 5 1/2 foot long.

Sweet! I want to see the pics! Got webspace? If not, email them to me and I'll post a link to them here. Emotion: smile
I'm barely within the reported range (Northern arizona, but at 7000 feet) due to altitude.

Very cool! You might consider letting the website keepers where you found the range info know of your find, and elevation! Global warming brings about many changes, I think (gah, the fleas this year!!).
not venomous, but is described as aggressive by one site, and will "strike repeatedly".

Well if that worries you, then don't mess with the snake after you've been handling rodents. Emotion: smile
It did not seem aggressive. It basically utterly ignored me. If it had wanted to strike at me, it could easily have done so that first day as I passed within inches of it before I knew it was there.

Sounds like a lovely neighbor.
My problem is that I'm wondering how dangerous it is?

If you're a rodent, the gopher snake is dangerous to you. As you're an exellent speller, I doubt you've any rodent heritage. Thereby the snake is not a danger to you.
nowhere can I find out how bad it's bite is.

It probably has 1 upper and 1 lower row of short, sharp teeth. More than likely, if the snake bit you, you'd have a matching pair of u-shaped tiny puncture wounds. Any residual soreness from the tiny punctures would fade away in a matter of days, assuming you wash your hands.
I'm assuming it can't be too bad as some people keep them as pets, but I'd like to know for sure.

You're right.
I have no intention of harming the snake, but if it's a seriousdanger to have around I'll safely trap it and release it a few miles away.

Bah. Snakes are lovely to have around! Low maintenance, too!
On the other hand, the info I have found so far indicates it eats mice, gophers, and desert pack rats. ... snake isn't too dangerous, I will be happy to let it stay and just be real careful before going outside.

This is wonderful news!! You, the rodentia, and the snake can all have a mutually appreciative relationship. Well, not so much for the rodents...
My specific questions would be; is the snake territorial (will itstay around?) Some sites say the females are, and I think this may be female due to it's size.

Probably. Especially as long as there is a food source!
How fast can it move?

Not as fast as you. Emotion: smile
It seemed very slow moving, and the weather is quite warm.

How warm? 90s? If so, that weather would be conducive to about as fast as that snake can move. Cooler temps will bring sluggishness.
Is 20 ft. a safe distance? If it's a very fast mover and aggressive maybe 20ft is too close?

Bah. 10 feet, even 6 feet, 2 feet if you're me... ALL SAFE! Emotion: smile
Also, is there any way to safely (for both me and the snake) to getit to move (just a few yards) if I need to?

A makeshift snake hook! Keep a golf club leaning on the side of the house, use that to relocate the snake. A broomstick would work as well. Emotion: smile
It came onto my patio yesterday while I was BBQing my dinner, forcing me to vacate thearea. I tried stamping ... right for me and the BBQ but very slowly. By the time the snake moved on, my dinner was cinders.

giggle you said you're a big guy??
I considered turning a garden hose on the snake, but it was tooclose to the spigot by the time I thought of that. So, any suggestions for future dinner rescues?

Ummm.. a squirt gun?? X-D
And, any chance of a snake-proof fence (if the snake is indeed dangerous)?

No such thing. Unless you tied a bunch of cats, dogs, and birds to a f ence... they might deter a snake.
One of the things I use my patio for is working out with free weights, and doing that while keeping ... come towards me once while I was lifting, but I saw it and went indoors before it got too close.)

You could play a bunch of loud music while you're lifting weights... maybe the vibration of some seriously rockin' stuff would keep him away. Emotion: smile
There's always citronella candles... heh!
fr0glet
I see this group is primarily about pet snakes, but I can't find anywhere else to ask, and I need ... have a home under some planks covering a hole. I've seen it go in and out of there several times.

Hey Chris,
Don't sweat this snake too much. If it was a venomous snake, then caution/possible removal might be necessary. It seems to me that you have a pretty good working relationship with this snake.. You dont bother him and he doesn't want to bother you.
20 feet is definitely a wide berth. 5 feet is probably a more reasonablerange. In fact, it doesn't sound like he wants to bite, so he may only be aggressive if you actually corner him and present yourself as a danger in his eyes (i.e. if you tried to grab him, hit him with something, etc.) In my opinion, some bullsnakes and gopher snakes deserve their reputation as aggressive, but many individuals that I've seen are tame as little lambs. It sounds to me like this one is fairly easygoing, a mean Pituophis (latin name for the species) makes itself clear right away that it does not like you and does not want you around.

An aggressive bullsnake will blow its body up and hiss at you like he's the devil himself. If you haven't seen this type of behavior from your little friend, then chances are that he is pretty non-aggressive, and you wont have any troubles living with him. About a bite; Bullsnakes have regular teeth, and not fangs. So, if you were to get bitten, you won't have to worry about"puncture" wounds. Unless you were trying to handle him, chances are he would not get a good bite on you anyway.

He might break the surface of your skin with his teeth, but it would most likely be a skin wound or scratch. I don't believe you will have a problem being around him though. I won't say that he is "scared" of you, but I don't think you bother him at all. Just don't corner him intentionally, and don't try to hit him or harass him.
As far as just walking past him, if you didn't know he was there and you suddenly stepped on him or kicked him, I personally don't think he would bite even then. If he did bite in a situation like that, it would probably be a quick retalitory nip, and you probably wouldn't be injured at all, possibly a scratch or similar wound. Just clean it with alcohol or peroxide and you will be fine.
If you really REALLY need to move him, a large trashcan and a broom will do it. Just shoo him into the can with the broom, put the lid on and move him to another area within a mile or so of your house. Just realize, that would be considered pestering to him, and he would be more defensive when your shooing him around.
And finally, he probably won't hang around there forever. It sounds like you will get along fine while he is there, just don't be afraid of him and go about your daily routine. Give him a few feet of space, if he does get aggressive when youre close to him, you can always move him. Otherwise, he will keep you entertained when you get more comfortable with him, and he will keep your rodent population in check. He is not dangerous by any means, so just give hima little room and a little respect. Keep us up to date on how he's doing and how you two are getting along.
Later,
ryan
On the other hand, the info I have found so far indicates it eats mice, gophers, and desert pack rats. I have too many of all of those on my property

Sounds like you should fire the snake.

..

Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.

.. (Email Removed) http://www.memeticcandiru.com
Hey man, relax. The snake is not dangerous. It WILL NOT chase you down. The only way it would bite you is if you tried to catch it.

Perhaps the snake is so slow and relaxed around you because it's an escaped or freed pet. Just let it stay and eat your rodents, and try not to step on it.
)
Cindy
Hey Chris, Don't sweat this snake too much. If it was a venomous snake, then caution/possible removal might be necessary. ... have a pretty good working relationship with this snake.. You dont bother him and he doesn't want to bother you.

I definitely don't want to bother him, especially since finding out he does not have large fangs with which to do me serious damage. As far as I'm concerned, he's quite welcome to stay.
20 feet is definitely a wide berth. 5 feet is probably a more reasonable range. In fact, it doesn't sound ... present yourself as a danger in his eyes (i.e. if you tried to grab him, hit him with something, etc.)

Strangely, the fountain he was in when I first saw him (and unknowingly walked within inches) was literally in a corner. But the snake seemed to have no reaction to my presence whatsoever.
In my opinion, some bullsnakes and gopher snakes deserve their reputation as aggressive,

I think I was wrong about my interpretation of "aggressive". To me, that meant an animal that will chase you down and attack. I do have mountain lions here, and I don't count them as aggressive because they usually won't attack an adult unless provoked or cornered. I don't bother them as long as they don't attack me, same as for the snake. I wouldn't even consider it an attack if I blundered into the snake and it bit me.
but many individuals that I've seen are tame as little lambs. It sounds to me like this one is fairly ... your little friend, then chances are that he is pretty non-aggressive, and you wont have any troubles living with him.

Heck, even if he did put on displays like that (and so far, nothing), those sound defensive, not aggressive.
About a bite; Bullsnakes have regular teeth, and not fangs. So, if you were to get bitten, you won't have ... think you bother him at all. Just don't corner him intentionally, and don't try to hit him or harass him.

Well, he's sure not scared of me. Even rattlers are a heck of a lot more timid than this snake. It came right at me, even though I stamped my feet. I tried flailing my arms around and yelling, too, but he just kept coming, (very slowly), like I didn't exist. About the only response I've seen is I think he pauses to look if I move suddenly.
As far as just walking past him, if you didn't know he was there and you suddenly stepped on him ... at all, possibly a scratch or similar wound. Just clean it with alcohol or peroxide and you will be fine.

No different from a lizard bite, sounds like. And those are no big deal.
OK, snake, you aren't chasing me away from my dinner anymore! :-)
If you really REALLY need to move him, a large trashcan and a broom will do it. Just shoo him into the can with the broom, put the lid on and move him to another area within a mile or so of your house.

I have no intention of moving him now; I'd only have done that if he was dangerous. I moved a big Diamondback Rattler that way (trash can and broom), once, for that reason.
What I mean by "moving" the snake now is just to get him to move a few feet, such as when I wanted to rescue my dinner from the BBQ and the snake had parked himself close by (and sat there for an hour, while my steak became cinders). I could have thrown things, but didn't want to hurt the snake (heck, I was wearing a 9mm pistol at the time, so if I'd been inclined to hurt it, I could have.).
Just realize, that would be considered pestering to him, and he would be more defensive when your shooing him around.

I couldn';t blame him for that. I'd probably get a bit hostile if somebody was shooing me around, too. :-)
And finally, he probably won't hang around there forever. It sounds like you will get along fine while he is ... to him, you can always move him. Otherwise, he will keep you entertained when you get more comfortable with him,

I'm already far more comfortable thanks to these posts. I now know the snake can't do me serious damage, and isn't likely to try and chase me down to do it. So, as far as I'm concerned, he's a cool thing to see, and plus he will make life more "interesting" for some pesky rodents.
and he will keep your rodent population in check. He is not dangerous by any means, so just give hima little room and a little respect.

I'll definitely try and be a considerate neighbor, but I think I may try the water pistol idea to get him to move away from my BBQ the next time he parks himself by it and my dinner is being ruined.
Keep us up to date on how he's doing and how you two are getting along. Later, ryan
Will do! Here is an update from an hour ago. I went outside to work out, and the snake was at the other end of the patio, at the base of a wall, laying almost straight out, and flicking his tongue in and out. He moved his head and a few inches of body occasionally, but other than that nothing. I kept an eye on him, but went about my normal routine, the snake about 40 ft. away. Then, the snake moved, sort of in my direction, about four feet, then stopped for a minute.

The snake seemed to be watching me, his head cocked at about a 40 degree angle to me but changing from side to side occasionally. The snake came closer a few feet at a time, on a roughly straight course across the patio, not straight at me but close, passing about fifteen feet away. The snake passed and headed away (still just crawling, stoping, then crawling again) so once it was well past I went inside to bandage my thumb (I was so busy watching the snake I mashed my thumb when putting a weight back on a rack).

So, I did myself more damage than the snake could have. :-)
I've definitely confirmed that he's living in a plank-covered pit by the side of some steps. It's also right next to a pack rat warren.

BTW, is tap water ok for Sonoran Gopher Snakes to drink? It's filtered well water, UV treated but no chlorine . I've seen the snake poking around a potted plant right after it was watered, looked like he was licking the drops. It's very dry here so I put out a bowl of bottled water and there are marks in the dirt indicating he drank it (or, something did). I have drip irrigation so i was thinking of putting a bowl and dripper (to flush it and keep it filed) for the snake.
I took my photos and spent a while searching, and ... it's a Sonoran Gopher snake, about 5 1/2 foot long.

Sweet! I want to see the pics! Got webspace? If not, email them to me and I'll post a link to them here. Emotion: smile

I don't have webspace now but hope to soon. I'll be happy to e-mail them, is the address in your post good?
I'm barely within the reported range (Northern arizona, but at 7000 feet) due to altitude.

Very cool! You might consider letting the website keepers where you found the range info know of your find, and elevation! Global warming brings about many changes, I think (gah, the fleas this year!!).

I've since found other sites claiming a range up to 8000 feet.
not venomous, but is described as aggressive by one site, and will "strike repeatedly".

Well if that worries you, then don't mess with the snake after you've been handling rodents. Emotion: smile

ROFL!!!
It did not seem aggressive. It basically utterly ignored me. ... within inches of it before I knew it was there.

Sounds like a lovely neighbor.

I'm a heck of a lot happier to have it since reading this post and others here, thanks!
My problem is that I'm wondering how dangerous it is?

If you're a rodent, the gopher snake is dangerous to you. As you're an exellent speller, I doubt you've any rodent heritage. Thereby the snake is not a danger to you.

But, I'm an awful speller, which is why I use a spelling-checker. Oh, no, I'm snake chow!! :-0)
nowhere can I find out how bad it's bite is.

It probably has 1 upper and 1 lower row of short, sharp teeth. More than likely, if the snake bit ... Any residual soreness from the tiny punctures would fade away in a matter of days, assuming you wash your hands.

Not even as serious as a dog bite, then. (and I've had a few of those).

Well, I was only going to do a relocation if it was a serious danger. As it was, I wasn't too thrilled with having it drive me off my patio on a regular basis, but I was willing to put up with that. But, as it looks to be harmless, I won't be evacuating the patio just because it shows up, so it's a welcome guest now. (doubly so, if it's trying to eat the rodents!)
On the other hand, the info I have found so ... it stay and just be real careful before going outside.

This is wonderful news!! You, the rodentia, and the snake can all have a mutually appreciative relationship. Well, not so much for the rodents...

I'm so heartbroken.. NOT! :-)
Those packrats are a nuisance. They build dens everywhere, including under the hood of my car if i park it outside. And the gophers are eating the roots of some of my cottonwood trees, killing them. I've tried all kinds of things to get rid of them, but nothing has worked so far. I won't use any poisons while the snake is here, for obvious reasons.

Great!
How fast can it move?

Not as fast as you. Emotion: smile

Good! I've had what I think is a whipsnake on the property, about two years ago. That thing was FAST...
It seemed very slow moving, and the weather is quite warm.

How warm? 90s? If so, that weather would be conducive to about as fast as that snake can move. Cooler temps will bring sluggishness.

Upper 80's, but it seemed about as sluggish at night (upper 70's) too.
Is 20 ft. a safe distance? If it's a very fast mover and aggressive maybe 20ft is too close?

Bah. 10 feet, even 6 feet, 2 feet if you're me... ALL SAFE! Emotion: smile

I'll settle for six to ten feet. The snake actually can't do anything bad to me now that I know it has no fangs and it's bite is minor, so I'm no longer worried about it attacking. Plus, it's been totally non-agressive so far.

I feel rather silly now.. I had a broom, but I had visions of provoking the snake, it chasing me up a tree, then coming up after me.. :-). The odd thing is, I've used a broom to move a rattler before, but I've been around rattlers enough (they have been common everywhere I've ever lived) to know their striking distance and roughly how fast they can move, plus that they don't usually go on the offensive. With this snake, I had no idea what it might be capable of, so I beat a hasty retreat. :-)
BTW, I've since learned that these snakes kill their prey mainly by constriction, and this snake isn't big enough for me to worry about it strangling me. :-)

Yeah, a chagrined one right now. :-). The snake basically just lay there, not coiled, about ten feet from my grill. I was inside my house, staring out the window, watching my steak become cinders.

That's a darn good idea!! I'll try that if I have to, Thanks!!!

Actually, no... I don't have neighbors nearby, so I do play music Emotion: rock while working out, and I play it loud. It does not bother the snake. The snake crawled right around one end of the boom box.
My problem is that I'm wondering how dangerous it is? ... them as pets, but I'd like to know for sure.

It's unlikely to bite you unless you try picking it up, or if you corner it and make it feel threatened. It'll most likely give you a threat display (including hissing) first, but that's not a given.

No threat displays of any kind so far. Even when I was face-to-face with the snake, when it was looking in the window and I tapped on the glass.
If it was to bite, I'd guess you're looking at a similar territory to a "play" bite from a pet cat at worst, but probably not even that bad. Just dab some antiseptic on it and you'll be fine.

That's it? Heck, I've got lots of wild lizards around here, some of them about nine inches long, and they bite no worse than that (I was trying to heard one out of my garage, got careless, and it bit me). That was no big deal, just tiny abrasion marks and a bruise (it got me on the finger). I was worried about the snake having fangs that could cause deep puncture wounds.
How fast can it move? It seemed very slow moving, ... very fast mover and aggressive maybe 20ft is too close?

Snakes are fast strikers, but if you're out of their strike range (up to about 3/4 of their body length), they're not particularly fast animals on land. You can cover 20 feet in the open much faster than the snake will be able to.

Unless I leap and fall over backwards like I did when I first spotted it. :-)
It came onto my patio yesterday while I was BBQing ... thought of that. So, any suggestions for future dinner rescues?

If you can pluck up the nerve, just ignore it.

Now I know it does not have large fangs, I don't see it as any different than the lizards, so I don't feel nervous about it now. .

I guess I mis-interpreted the "aggressive" description. I envisioned a snake with serious fangs chasing after me and biting repeatedly.
It'll almost certainly slither right by you. Obviously you might want to consider moving if it decides to climb the inside of your trouser-leg. ;-)

ROFL!!
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