Whipsnake Survey

Yesterday, biologist Mandy Murphy allowed me to tag along with her while she ran her string of snake traps in search of Alameda whipsnakes and other reptiles.

We found a whipsnake in the third trap we checked. It was a recapture as she had caught it once before and left it with an identifying mark.

The snake was a large one, about four and a half feet long. She also caught a gopher snake.

IMG_3199 trapped gopher snake

The trap consists of vertical boards which guide the target species towards four wire cages that are similar to minnow traps. Once the snake or other critter enters the trap, it cannot find a way out. In this photo there are four separate wire mesh cages underneath the foam boards which protect the caught snakes from overheating.

The traps are monitored closely so that snakes will not be injured.


Snakes that are caught provide samples for DNA testing to determine their genetic makeup. According to Mandy, researchers have determined that two California racer species, the Alameda whipsnake and the California racer, are closely related. It is anticipated that the snakes captured on our ranch will share the genetic makeup of both species.

Reptile Survey Turns up Alameda Whipsnake

I was on my second day of checking for whipsnakes and I’d seen a gazillion fence lizards (mostly on rock piles), four aligator lizards (under our roof material), a rattle snake (a very large one), and two gopher snakes (sunning themselves in roads)

One more check on the way home. It was about 3:00 PM and I figured some of the tins would be too hot, but the ones in parital  sun might be just right. It seemed like I was wrong, as the first seven tins had only one fence lizard, but tin #8 was a bonanza.

Watch this video.


Here’s a couple photos.

Alameda whipsnake

Off to the left you can see part of a garder snake. Here’s a better picture of the garter snake.

garter snake

It could be that the whipsnake was about to make lunch of the garter snake.