Watch where you step in Elysian Park

Photo by Matt Erman

And we are not talking about doggy droppings. Matt Erman came upon the approximately three-foot long snake pictured above this morning on a trial on the west side of Elysian Park near Park Drive and Academy Road. “The snake was actually chillin’ right before a fork in the path.”


  1. This looks like a gopher snake to me. I’ve seen a bunch of them in the park in the last few weeks. They are harmless, but people get freaked because they are long and look a lot like rattlers (which I’ve never seen in Elysian Park after daily walks for the past 5 years).

    • Not only the rattle, but also the head shape is a dead giveaway that this guy isn’t a rattler. Lets not create fear amongst the populace by posting an image of a snake with no explanation of what kind of snake and severity of danger associated with it. It would be bad if A. people became fearful of the park due to there being snakes present & B. those snakes die due to people being afraid of harmless little guys like the one above.

    • I will advise, though: while the snakes you run into in Elysian Park might not normally be dangerous ones, stay the hell away from them unless you are expert enough to know what kind they are. Do not presume, as if you do, that one is almost guaranteed to be the one dangerous one.

  2. Looks like it has a rattle

    • Newbe Alijll This Is A Gopher Snake Harmless 2 Humans We Used 2 Catch Them All Over Debs Park In The Summer Thats When They Come Out Even The Kings Snakes I got Bit A Few Times By Them . We Never Killed Them We Just Played With Them A Little Bit Then Let Them Go”

      • Wow sorry on my iPhone it looked like it had rattles. What’s up with all the personal smug comments? How about being kind to one another?

  3. gopher snakes like the one pictured appear all over elysian park at certain times of the year. i saw a medium a few weeks ago, & then a baby, that unfortunately, someone felt the need to stomp.

    luckily, my dogs trot right past them as they don’t sense their cold-blooded bodies.

  4. That’s a nice looking serpent. I wonder why there are gopher and king snakes in our parks but not so many rattlesnakes, if any. I’ve seen some fatty rattlesnakes lying across the trail just above Devil’s Gate Dam. I’ve also seen lots of rattlesnakes lying on trails in the San Gabriels, especially Mt. Baldy. Methinks they like the warmth of the trails to bring life to their cold, cold blood.

  5. Please be nice to the snakes!! We are lucky to have them, as they keep the rat and rodent populations down.

  6. Was definitely NOT a rattler. It was harmlessly sunning itself around 8AM. It was the first one I’d seen up there, but I wish there’d be more. As a hiker/runner those gopher/rodent holes are WAY more dangerous than this snake. He was a cool character. As a small crowd gathered to check it out he casually cruised off looking for a hole.

  7. I need gopher snakes for my hill! The gopher population has exploded! When I was a kid we would see them all the time, now never.My garden last year was destroyed in about a week. I have inquired about buying gopher snakes and releasing but that is illegal.

    • off topic, but here’s my solution for gophers eating your garden. after years of trying everything on the market, I started wrapping the root balls of new plants in chicken wire. I make little baskets out of the stuff, put the root ball in it, then crush it to fit and drop the plant in the ground. they can’t get to the roots so they don’t eat them. only thing I found that works. happy gardening.

      • Yeah, that’s the surest solution. I have my whole strawberry bed chicken wired underneath. If you do a garden bed though, you need to have 6 inches above the ground so they can’t get in above ground either.

        Tall grass is gopher snake habitat, so brush clearance does a number on them.

    • Why is releasing store bought snakes into the wild illegal? Seems fine for biologists to move snakes from a new development to some random place to protect them.

      • The snake may try to eat an animal that is too big for it and die. If they are raised and fed by humans they don’t have all of their wild instincts. This is the only explanation I have heard. California is pretty strict about releasing animals into the environment. A gopher snake program would be great!

  8. You know, the title of this article is “Watch where you step” rather than “Dangerous snake”.

  9. Eeek! That is so scary wee ohhh!!!

  10. It’s my understanding that snakes that are about the same width all along their bodies are not venomous, but if you see a snake whose head region bulges out to become much wider than the rest of its body, it’s a poisonous snake. You see no bulging head in the gopher snake in the picture. I’ve been told that gopher snakes have hinged jaws, however, so they can open their mouths to swallow a gopher.

  11. Even if it were a rattler, let’s be nice to snakes. Venomous or not they still remove rats, and I’d rather have rattlers than rats.

  12. It’s great to see gopher snakes returning after Parks & Rec (I believe) used to use giant disk plows to turn the soil, for weed/fire control, thus chopping these snakes into bits. Then those damn gophers multiplied out of control.

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