Knowledge of the home range of an animal can provide insights for studies of behavioral interactions among individuals, and long-term monitoring of particular animals is necessary to determine whether they exhibit seasonal variation in space-use patterns. I radio-tracked four adult male Pituophis catenifer (gopher snake) in central California for 14 consecutive months to investigate spatial and seasonal movement patterns. Using the fixed kernel density estimator to produce a probability contour, the 95% home ranges of P. catenifer ranged from 0.89–1.78 ha, whereas their core areas (50% polygons), the most heavily used areas of their home ranges, ranged from 0.1–0.29 ha. Movements of male P. catenifer were similar in spring and summer and decreased in autumn and winter. The telemetered snakes were close to marshes and Eucalyptus woodlands but were routinely found in grassland areas, perhaps because this habitat type may provide abundant food resources and partial protection from predators. Despite their proximity, the estimated home ranges of males 2, 3, and 4 did not overlap. These findings, and those of a previous investigation of activity patterns of P. catenifer in eastern Nebraska, suggest that syntopic gopher snakes occupy exclusive home ranges during at least part of their active season.
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Vol. 2003 • No. 2