A Gopher on the Golf Course

There are lots of gophers on the golf courses in northern Nevada, and I’m not talking about the little brown furry rodents that Carl Spackler went to war with in the movie Caddyshack.  Nope, the gophers I’m talking about are long and scaly.  I’m talking Gopher Snakes!

Whenever I visit my Dad at his home in Sparks NV, I  spend time in the surrounding desert searching for snakes and lizards.  The Great Basin desert is a harsh area characterized by very little rain fall, cold winters and hot summers, and it is mostly rocky and covered in sage brush.  Although many people associate deserts with snakes, I usually don’t find very many snakes or lizards besides western fence lizards.  In fact, I am able to find more reptiles in northern Virginia than in northern Nevada.


So, I was talking with my Dad and some of his golfing buddies and they started telling me about the snakes they see on the golf course.  They described seeing many gopher snakes sunning on the greens and in the rough.  My Dad offered to take me snake hunting on the golf course he is a member of — I was excited!

The weather in Sparks can be unpredictable — to say the least.  In June, it can be 90 one day and then snow the next day!  The day we set off on our golf course snake safari it was about 80 — but the wind was blowing down from the snowy Sierras at about 30 miles per hour.  I wasn’t sure if the snakes would be out in wind like that.


Snow on Mt Rose, NV in June


Dad received permission from the course manager to take me on a “tour” of the course.  We got on our golf cart and began our adventure!


The views are spectacular in Nevada — you can see forever.  It was so nice just to be out enjoying our day.  Dad was careful to not to get in any of the golfers’ way and he knew right where the snakes were most likely to be.

Dad was also careful not to hit any fence lizards that were on the cart path.  (Fore! little lizards)

Then we totally lucked out!  Not only did we find a beautiful gopher snake, we found him eating a vole!  (Voles are little furry mammals that Carl Spackler would not approve of.)


What an awesome day.  And the best part was how appreciative Dad and his friends were of the snakes.  They respected and protected the snakes  from other less herpetologically informed golfers.  Thank you guys!