Reptiles are ectothermic and cannot control their own body temperatures. Because of this they will often be found laying in the sunlight to warm themselves so they may be more active.
Lazarus was doing just this when he was intentionally run over by a child on a bicycle. Witnesses prevented the child from causing Lazarus additional injury and he was brought to WERC with skull and jaw damage. The injuries were so severe that Lazarus did not move for several days and we thought he was probably dead. Eventually, he did move as if he had come back to life. The injuries to the jaw and skull prevent Lazarus from eating normally and reduce his ability to hunt effectively in the wild. For these reasons Lazarus has become part of the education program at WERC in 1989 where he helps to educate the community about the natural history of reptiles and the needs of wildlife in California. Lazarus lives in a large indoor enclosure that allows him to move freely about.
Gopher Snake Fast Facts
Length: 48-96" (120-240 cm).
Habits: Active by day, but may be nocturnal in hot weather.
Breeding: Female lays one or two clutches, 2-24 eggs each, in summer.
Habitat: The Gopher Snake has a variety of habitats ranging from sea level to mountains. Hide in rodent burrows, under logs and stones, and dig into loose soil.
Range: Southernmost British Columbia east to Wisconsin and south to southern California and southern Texas.
Prey: Valuable in controlling rodents. Eats small mammals (rodents, rabbits, ground squirrels, etc.) and birds, eggs. Sometimes lizards and insects. Kills by constriction.