Pituophis catenifer 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae

Scientific Name: Pituophis catenifer (Blainville, 1835)
Common Name(s):
English Bullsnake, Gophersnake, Gopher Snake
Taxonomic Notes: Pituophis catenifer, P. melanoleucus, P. ruthveni, and P. vertebralis formerly were formerly regarded as conspecific (as P. melanoleucus), but were separated here (see Rodríguez-Robles and de Jesús-Escobar 2000).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large and relatively stable extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size. No major threats exist.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species' range extends from southern British Columbia to Indiana, and south through all of western North America to northern Baja California (Grismer 2002), Sonora, Sinaloa and Zacatecas in Mexico.
Countries occurrence:
Canada; Mexico; United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations (see map in Sweet and Parker 1990). The total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 100,000 and probably exceeds 1,000,000. This snake is relatively common in many areas. Its extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in a wide range of habitats, extending from lowlands to mountains: desert, prairie, shrubland, woodland, open coniferous forest, farmland, and marshes. Midwestern populations inhabit prairies; western and Mexican populations range from coastal grasslands and forests through deserts into montane forests (Sweet and Parker 1990). This snake is terrestrial, fossorial, and arboreal. It remains underground in cold weather and during the hot midday period in summer; it may occupy mammal burrows (Schroder 1950, Fitch 1958) or dig its own burrow, aided by the pointed snout and enlarged rostral scale. Carpenter (1982) estimated that burrowing Pituophis could move up to 3,400 cubic cm of soil in an hour. Eggs are deposited in burrows excavated by the female in loose soil, in spaces beneath large rocks or logs, or possibly in small mammal burrows.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. Local declines have occurred in areas with extensive, intensive agricultural or urban development, but these snakes persist in semi-agricultural landscapes and rural residential areas.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many occurrences of this species are in protected areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
8. Desert -> 8.2. Desert - Temperate
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.7. Artificial/Aquatic - Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.8. Artificial/Aquatic - Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Land

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education

Bibliography [top]

Carpenter, C.C. 1982. The bullsnake as an excavator. Journal of Herpetology 16: 394-401.

Fitch, H.S. 1958. Home ranges, territories, and seasonal movement of vertebrates of the Natural History Reservation. University of Kansas Publications of the Museum of Natural History 11: 63-326.

Grismer, L.L. 1994. The origin and evolution of the peninsular herpetofauna of Baja California, Mexico. Herpetological Natural History 2: 51-106.

Grismer, L.L. 1996. Pituophis melanoleucus annectens: geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 27: 35.

Grismer, L.L. 1997. The distribution of Pituophis melanoleucus and P. vertebralis in northern Baja California, Mexico. Herpetological Review 28: 68-70.

Grismer, L.L. 2001. Comments on the taxonomy of gopher snakes from Baja California, Mexico: a reply to Rodríguez-Robles and de Jesús-Escobar Herpetological Review 32: 81-83.

Grismer, L.L. 2002. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Klauber, L.M. 1946. The gopher snakes of Baja California, with descriptions of three new subspecies of Pituophis catenifer. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 11: 1-40.

Knight, J.L. 1986. Variation in snout morphology in the North American snake Pituophis melanoleucus. Journal of Herpetology 20: 77-79.

Reichling, S.B. 1995. The taxonomic status of the Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus ruthveni) and its relevance to the evolutionary species concept. Journal of Herpetology 29: 186-198.

Rodríguez-Robles, J.A. 1998. Alternative perspectives on the diet of gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer, Colubridae): literature records versus stomach contents of wild and museum specimens. Copeia 1998: 463-466.

Rodríguez-Robles, J.A. and de Jesús-Escobar, J.M. 2000. Molecular systematics of New World gopher, bull, and pinesnakes (Pituophis: Colubridae), a transcontinental species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 14: 35-50.

Schroder, R.C. 1950. Hibernation of blue racers and bull snakes in western Illinois. Natural History Miscellanea 75: 1-2.

Soulé, M. and Sloan, A.J. 1966. Biogeography and distribution of the reptiles and amphibians on islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 14: 137-156.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Stull, O.G. 1940. Variations and relationships in the snakes of the genus Pituophis. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 175: 1-225.

Sweet, S.S. and Parker, W.S. 1990. Pituophis melanoleucus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 474: 1-8.

Welsh, H.H. 1988. An ecogeographic analysis of the herpetofauna of the Sierra San Pedro Martir region, Baja California with a contribution to the biogeography of the Baja California herpetofauna. Proceedings of the California Academy of Science, 4th series 46: 1-72.

Welsh, H.H. and Bury, R.B. 1984. Additions to the herpetofauna of the south Colorado Desert, Baja California, with comments on the relationships of Lichanuria trivirgata. Herpetological Review 15: 53-56.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pituophis catenifer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63869A12723241. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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