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What Do Gopher Snakes Eat?

Gophers eat snakes, lizards, birds, small mammals and rodents. Like all snakes, the gopher snake is exclusively carnivorous.

what do gopher snakes eat

Gopher snakes get their name not because of their diet of gophers, but rather after their habitat. They live in places where gophers burrow. They steal abandoned gopher burrows and use them to hide. But, they do eat gophers, too!

Gopher Snake Diet

Gopher snakes are not strict gopher eaters. They prey on a myriad of things. As diurnal animals, they are mostly active in the day. However, some of them are nocturnal if the weather is warm.

Gopher snakes seldom stay in dense forests. They prefer to live in dry areas like agricultural farmlands and fields. As such, their diet consists of animals thriving in their specific environment.

1. Pocket Gophers

These animals are rodents, and they are fossorial. What it means is they burrow. They have small eyes and ears, but highly functional paws for digging. They also have long incisors, which they can use to fight back.

Gopher snakes kill them through constriction. They follow gophers in their burrows where the gopher has nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. The gopher snake is not the only predators of gophers, as badgers and canines also dig them out of the ground.

2. Eggs

An egg is part of a gopher snake’s diet, provided that it is available where it lives. Since the gopher snake has a small mouth (it only rows to four feet), it will only eat eggs that are small.

In the wild, a gopher snake will typically eat a quail egg. Like other snakes that eat eggs, it will open its jaws really wide, and then swallow the eggs whole. Here’s some footage of a gopher snake eating a quail egg:

3. Lizards

The gopher snake eats side-blotched lizards. This lizard belongs to the genus Uta, and it is abundant in deserts in the western areas of North America. These lizards cycle between three color patterns, and can grow to six inches long including the tail. 

Since all snakes are opportunistic animals, they will eat anything that they think they can fit in their mouths. They will eat lizards even if the lizard is small.

Gopher snakes do not single out lizards to be a part of their diet. They pick lizards as prey because they are abundant in their habitat.

4. Insects

Gopher snakes eat insects when they are juvenile. As they grow bigger, they will graduate from this diet and prey on bigger animals. 

When a gopher snake eats an insect, it targets anything. That can include grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas.

5. Bats

Gopher snakes eat bats, but this can be a rare sight to behold. Bats are nocturnal animal and typically stay in areas that the snake cannot reach.

There are exceptional situations where the bat is injured. In this case, the gopher snake will take the opportunity to attack.

Snakes are known to attack bats in caves, but the gopher snakes rarely have access to caves. If they do, they will take position and try to capture bats even if they are mid-flight.

FAQs

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Rattlesnakes?

Yes, a gopher snake will eat a rattlesnake. These two are in direct competition for food. If they ever get into a confrontation, and the gopher snake is hungry, the rattlesnake will be its lunch.

When a gopher snake attacks a rattlesnake, it does not use constriction. Instead, it will lie in wait and bit the rattlesnake’s head. The method of killing is suffocation. Once the rattlesnake is dead, the gopher snake will swallow it slowly.

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Gophers?

Yes, gopher snakes do eat gophers. Gopher snakes get their name because pocket gophers are part of their main diet, but also because they like to steal to gopher den. Gopher snakes can find the burrowing dens of pocket gophers and hunt them in their own homes.

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Chickens?

A gopher snake may not succeed in eating a chicken. Gopher snakes can only grow to four feet, and it is not a big enough size to make them capable of handling a chicken. They may eat chicks, but not mother chickens. Chickens are also aggressive and will fight back.

You Might also Be Interested In: Can Chickens Keep Snakes Away?

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?

Yes, gopher snakes will eat chicken eggs if they are big enough to swallow it. It is not unusual for backyard farmers to see gopher snakes hanging around the area.

However, gopher snakes may not attack a coop if the mother chicken is around. Mother chickens will protect their eggs and chicks from any kind of snakes.

Gopher snakes may also be hanging around chicken coops to catch rodents who are attracted to the coops, too.

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Lizards?

Yes, gopher snakes do eat lizards but it is likely that only juveniles do this. As snakes grow, they will eventually look for bigger food. Because of this, the gopher snake is likely to attack small mammals and other snakes.

If anything, gopher snakes are known to attack side-blotched lizards. If an adult snake knows that there is an abundance of lizards in its habitat, then it will eat lizards on a regular basis.

Do Gopher Snakes Eat Squirrels?

Yes, gopher snakes will eat squirrels. However, they need to be careful when doing this, as squirrels are omnivores. Squirrels typically chew on nuts and plants, but they will eat small snakes.

Squirrels also fight back, so the gopher snake must kill the squirrel in an ambush. If the squirrel spots the snake, ten a fight is going to ensue. In most cases, a squirrel is likely to win.

Squirrels are larger than gopher snakes. Since the gopher has no venom, it is not going to win a direct fight against a squirrel. It is better off to give up and live again for another day.

Conclusion

Gopher snakes, also called bull snakes, are non-venomous constrictors. They can grow to four feet long and have a wide array of diet.

Gopher snakes eat lizards, pocket gophers, and insects. They will also eat frogs if they are available in their habitat. Gopher snakes that have access to bats will not hesitate to hunt them. Gopher snakes will also eat other snakes, especially rattle snakes.

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