Sir Hiss-a-Lot, the Pacific Gopher Snake

David Rosen/Wildside Photography

Sir Hiss-a-Lot was hatched sometime around 1993. When Sir Hiss was a baby snake, he was captured by a boy who didn’t know that you should never keep a wild animal as a pet.  Nonetheless, the boy took excellent care of him for about 10 years. When the young man went off to college, his mom didn’t want to take care of Sir Hiss by herself.

She listed him for adoption with the Bay Area Amphibian & Reptile Society and he ultimately made his way to Splash. Sir Hiss currently weighs 3.5 lbs. and he is 5 ft. long.

The Gopher Snake is very common in California and can be found in many habitat types, including right here at Mather. Like the California Kingsnake, the Gopher Snake is a constrictor, which squeezes its prey in order to kill it. They feed on mammals, birds, and occasionally lizards.

Because they look similar, Gopher Snakes are often mistaken for Rattlesnakes. The Gopher Snake uses this to its advantage to scare away predators, such as coyotes and hawks. When disturbed or attacked, a Gopher Snake will often flatten its head (making it look wider), hiss loudly, and shake its tail very fast. If it’s tail is shaking in dry leaves or grass, it even sounds like a Rattlesnake’s rattle!

Female Gopher Snakes usually lay 7 or 8 eggs during the early summer below ground in mammal burrows or moist, loose soil and the baby snakes emerge in the fall.

Sir Hiss is a very mellow and personable snake. He actually seems curious about people. He will occasionally vibrate his tail when he is irritated (like when he’s shedding) or if he just doesn’t want to be bothered.

Learn more about Pacific Gopher Snakes!