What to do with a gopher snake?

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CDFW

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Question: Is it legal to kill a gopher snake in California? Is it legal to take a gopher snake from the wild and keep it as a pet? I have a neighbor who has one on his property and does not want it there. If he can capture it, he’s either going to kill it or give it away. (Sharla)

Answer: A valid sport fishing license is required to capture or kill gopher snakes in California, per CCR Title 14, section 5.60. The bag limit is four and the possession limit is four. Gopher snakes can be taken by hand, lizard noose, tongs or a snake stick, year-round.

A gopher snake caught in the wild can be kept as a pet, but once it’s been in captivity, you can’t release it back into the wild without authorization from CDFW (CCR Title 14, section 40). Wild gopher snakes also can’t be sold, although they can be bred with a Native Reptile Captive Propagation Permit, and any offspring born in captivity can be sold to people and pet stores to be kept as pets (CCR Title 14, section 43).

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