Another park visitor pointed this one out to me. I was tired from walking around the park and probably would have missed it. It was barely more than a foot long. Maybe 15 – 16 inches. Hardly thicker than a pencil. Definitely a very young one. The grownups get to be three and four feet long, thick like a salami. They like to stretch out across the asphalt path to soak up the heat. You can’t miss them. Park trucks stop for them.
Seen up close they’re very pretty. This one has a kind of blue bridge across its forehead. Sort of looks like the windows on a commercial jet. It moved at a leisurely pace, this way and that, probably just exploring. But it preferred going downslope. That brought it within a couple of feet of parked cars along Spinnaker Way on a busy Saturday. They can normally expect to live 12 to 15 years, but this one’s life could have been very short if it had continued. I breached the ethics of not interfering with wildlife by kicking sand and dirt in its face to turn it back from the road. It got the message, turned around, and hid under a rock. What it did after I left I don’t know.
Gopher snakes, as almost everyone knows, are not poisonous and don’t attack humans. The adult ones eat small mammals. This one must eat bugs, if it can find them. I haven’t seen a lot of crawling bugs in the park, other than ants. Maybe it lives on ants. We could use it here at home. The Pacific Gopher Snake is native to the West Coast of the U.S. and may be found as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Mexico.