snake in runyon canyon

Imagine my surprise (a couple of weeks ago) when this fellow – all four feet or maybe more – passed in front of me just ahead on the path (click for larger view). It was so sudden that I could hardly get the camera out in time, even though it was attached to my belt pack. I was hiking in Runyon Canyon for a short spell on a Sunday morning. It is quite busy at that time, with everyone and their dog (for real) out and about. Somehow, there was a brief lull in the foot traffic and the snake wanted to cross the road*.

snake in runyon canyonI actually don’t know what type this is. I’m sure several of you do. I followed it to the edge to get a closeup, but it faded into the undergrowth so quickly that I only got this detail shot (see right – click for larger view). Nobody else saw it, of course, and I just looked to everyone like some weirdo staring into a cactus…


(*Why? I don’t know. Ask the chicken.)

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5 Responses to Crossings

  1. Dave says:

    Looks like a pituophis catenifer to me. This species is often referred to as either a gopher snake or a bull snake.

  2. Carl Brannen says:

    Another vote for gopher snake.

  3. Will Campbell says:

    Awesome encounter — and I’m another vote for gopher snake. One of the cool things about gopher snakes is that they’ve evolved a mimic defense against predators in which they flatten their heads and coil up and move their tail tip rapidly in simulation of a rattle snakes threat posture. This works pretty good against coyotes and bobcats. Tragically what it doesn’t work good against is humans, who’ll shoot or smash the creatures not realizing they’re harmlessly nonvenomous and actual good to have around for organic pest control.

  4. Clifford says:

    Thanks everyone! I was thinking it was gopher, from my quick web searches, but the patterns did not look quite right to me, so glad to hear it from people who knew.

    Will… I did not know that about them. That defense mechanism would be sure to work against *me*!!