Snakes can be found throughout the West Valley. Most are non-venomous and those that do have venom primarily use it to kill its prey. There are three most common and encountered snakes: The Rattlesnake, Desert King-snake, and the Gopher snake.

rattlesnakes Crotalus cerastes   

There are many different species of rattlesnakes and each can be identified by the variation of the pattern and color of their skin.  Rattlesnakes have a forked tongue that they flick up and down.  The fork of the tongue is a directional aid.  It can provide information based on which side or fork in the tongue has the strongest presence of a particular odor.  This information helps the rattlesnake follow its prey or find its way home.  Rattlesnakes are usually not aggressive and only strike when threatened or deliberately provoked.  They can cause serious injury to humans on rare occasions.  The potential of running into a rattlesnake should not prevent anyone from venturing outdoors; however, there are several precautions that can be taken to lessen the chance of being bitten while outdoors.


desert king-snake     Lampropeltis getula splendid

The Desert King-snake is the mortal enemy of Rattlesnakes.  A King-snake eats Rattlers just like it does any other snake.  They bite it, and then kill it by constriction.  Rattlesnake venom seems to have no effect on King-snakes.  They also eat lizards, mice, rats, birds, and eggs.  They are found in arid regions of the southwest United States and northern Mexico. They are quite easy to keep in captivity and are relatively non-aggressive.  Desert King-snakes are usually shades of black and brown, and often have speckled markings in yellow, cream, or white.  Coloration, however, fades with age.  The Desert King-snake is a moderately-sized snake and it is rarely seen over four feet in length, although some specimens have been longer than five feet.


Gopher Snake

Gopher snakes are diurnal, large snakes that feed primarily on rodents. They are a spotted snake, usually with a brown to yellowy base color and brown spots.  The head is narrow and that is wider at the neck.  When frightened, the snake can hiss and rattle its tail in dry brush, mimicking a rattlesnake.  Unfortunately, they are often mistaken for rattlesnakes and people kill this helpful snake.  

desert rosy boa     Lichanura trivrgata

Desert Rosy Boas are a heavy-bodied snake.  They are one of the smallest members of the boa family.  They can be found in the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert of southern California.  Like other boas, they kill their prey by constriction.  Rosy boas are primarily a ground-dwelling snake, but will and are able to climb.  If feeling defensive, they may roll up into a ball, keeping their head in the center for protection and releasing a foul-smelling musk.  Rosy boas eat small mammals and birds.