I looked up from my writing, back in my old house in Lake Hughes, and this nosey fellow was peeking in the window checking my spelling, which is notoriously bad. So, I slipped outside for some pictures.
Although the intricate brown and yellow pattern of a gopher snake (also sometimes called a bull snake) can resemble the design on some rattlesnakes, the gopher snake is long, thin and elegant as compared to stockier rattlers. Two more things that really let you know you've got a harmless gopher snake: 1) No rattle. 2) That lovely narrow head.
Gopher snakes, kingsnakes and many others are not only beautiful, if you like that sort of thing, which I do, they also keep rodent populations down around your house. So be nice these good guys!
As a senior in high school, I volunteered in the reptile room of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It was there that I was given a newly hatched gopher snake along with the training to care for him for the next 22 years.
It was coming up on winter, and construction workers had accidentally unearthed him from hibernation, or more accurately, brumation. The reptile keeper told me he would die if released, and they had all the gopher snakes they could handle at the zoo.
So, Mortimer "followed me home." Fortunately, my mother wasn't like most mothers. She took to Mortimer like she had to the various dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, rooster, horses and every other critter my sister, father and I had brought home. Mortimer became part of the family.
Years later my son loved him, too. Yeah, the poor kid never had a chance.
Mortimer made many friends over the years, sometimes at preschools and birthday parties, and was always well behaved. One little Swiss girl even kissed him, much to her father's amusement.
We have gopher snakes here in Prescott, too. Unfortunately, this little fellow who was hanging around the last few weeks, didn't make it. I think maybe he should have found a place to hole up for winter as the weather turned chillier.
He reminds me of Mortimer and what might have happened to him if we hadn't taken him in all those years ago. I'm so glad we did.