WORLD PITUOPHIS WEB PAGE BY PATRICK H. BRIGGS

GOPHER SNAKES, PINE SNAKES & BULL SNAKES

CHANNEL ISLANDS GOPHER SNAKE (Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake)

 

Pituophis catenifer pumilis 

Photo slide of wild caught Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake from Santa Cruz Island.

by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Pituophis catenifer pumilis

 

 

Photo slide below of a wild-caught Santa Rosa Island Gopher Snake from the Santa Rosa Island. 

by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 

 

Pituophis catenifer pumilis  (Klauber, 1946)

Photo slide by Patrick Houston Briggs

 (The individual below came from one of the of the Channel Islands)Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

 

 

The Channel Islands Gopher Snake ( Santa Cruz Island & Santa Rosa Island Gopher Snake)

By Patrick Houston Briggs

 

 The Channel Islands Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer pumilis ( pumilio is Latin for "dwarf" ) is just as its Latin translation indicates , a dwarf race rarely exceeding 3 feet in length (91 cm). The hatchlings 6.5-9 inches. It is usually called the Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake, but  contrary to earlier reports of it only existing on that island, it has also been found on the Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands. Indeed, Paul Collins, a biologist and educator for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was present during the rescue of the individual that I have illustrated as "4" on this site from a menacing Raven on the Santa Rosa Island. Unofficial reports of gopher snakes are said to have also been found on the San Miguel of the Channel Islands National Park. With this in mind, the venacular Channel Island(s) Gopher Snake seems quite appropriate as given to us in Phil Brown's field book, Snakes of California. Phil Brown made it possible for me to photograph the following PUMILIS images many years ago.

The Santa Cruz Island gopher snake has a rather narrow head that is only slightly wider than the neck and when compared to other races, has a short and flattened snout and a rounded rostral. The nape is dark and there are 64-82 dark, small and descrete body blotches down the middle of the back. Many of these blotches anteriorly connect with the dorsolateral markings on each side of the snake. Brad Sillasen posted images that Laurie Van Stee photographed of a somewhat striped and blotched individual feeding on a rodent on Santa Cruz Island. The upper tail on blotched individuals is marked with 17-28 spots. The ground color is cream, olive, or yellowish. The venter is pale and dark speckled. There are 27-29 rows of scales at the midbody which also helps distinguish it from mainland races.

The California Department for Fish and Game DFG:SSC lists this form as a California Species of Special Concern.

The first specimen collected or "holotype" was specimen 17238 by Norman Bilderback on May 5, 1938. This race has only 29 scale rows or less which is different than other catenifer subspecies which possess more than 29 rows. Another indicating characteristic of this insular subspecies is that the light interspaces between the dark markings or blotches have scales that are not accented or tipped with black on the anterior part of the body.

 

Original Description:

Pituophis catenifer - (Blainville, 1835) - Nouv. Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris, Vol. 4, p. 290, pl. 26, figs. 2-2b
Pituophis catenifer pumilis - Klauber, 1946 - Trans. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. 11, p. 41, pl. 3

 

Santa Cruz Island (Channel Islands National Park)

Photo by Gary Nafis

Pituophis catenifer pumilis

Scanned slide by Pat Briggs 

 

 

  Scutelation

                                                          Midbody Scales                27-29                                                                   

                                                          Supralabials                     8

                                                          Ventrals                                                                                

                                                          Infralabials                      9-12

                                                          Caudals                                                                                 

                                                          Preoculars                       1-2

                                                          Anal                                Single                                                          

                                                          Postoculars                     3

                                                          Prefrontals                      4

                                                          Rostral                            rounded

                                                          Loreal                              1-2

Visit the resources below

To see the holotype, visit: http://www.sdnhm.org/archive/research/herpetology/record_detail.php?herp_id=95 

For info on the islands, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Islands_of_California

Gary Nafis' site:  http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/p.c.pumilis.html

http://www.channelislandsrestoration.com/sci/gophersnakeinfo.htm

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs

 (The specimen below is from Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands National Park) Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs (Individual below from Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands)

Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs -4-(Santa Rosa Island Individual below)

Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

 

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs (Santa Rosa Island below)

Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

 

 

Photo slide by Patrick Houston Briggs (Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake- Wild collected below) 

Courtesy Phil Brown, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

 

 

Lateral mid-body view of Pituophis catenifer pumilis Photo by Patrick H. Briggs

Photo by Patrick H. Briggs (Dorsal View at the midbody Pituophis catenifer pumilus)

 

 Photo by Pat Briggs

 

 

 

Pituophis catenifer pumilus

 

Santa Cruz Island Gopher Snake

Photo by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 

 

Patrick H. Briggs and Phil Brown Late 90s below

Channel Islands Gopher Snake

 

 Pituophis catenifer pumilis

Photo by Pat Briggs Courtesy Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History  

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Santa Cruz  Island Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer pumilis 

 Photo slide image by Patrick Briggs scanned to computer