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Bull Snake

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3.7/5

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Is the Bull Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Bullsnake; Gopher Snake

Scientific name: Pituophis catenifer sayi

The basics:
The Bull Snake is found in most areas of North America - from Canada in the north, to Texas in the south (where they are most common), to Colorado in the west, and Illinois in the east. It prefers open, sandy prairies, as well as open brushlands and grassy meadows bordered by woodlands. The Bullsnake is one sub-species of the Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer).

Appearance / health:
The Bullsnake is a heavy-bodied large snake that matures to about five feet in length. The snake has keeled scales, a single anal plate, and an enlarged rostral scale for burrowing. The body base color ranges from white to pale yellow to yellowish brown. The snake has large, dark blotch markings on the body, which are black in the head area and brownish in the mid-section. Towards the tail, the blotches become black bands or rings. Along the sides, the snake has brown to black spots that form a checkerboard or speckled effect. The belly is white on the throat, turning yellowish with brown markings towards the tail. A distinct black stripe runs across the top of the head from eye to eye, and a smaller stripe runs from the eye to the corner of the mouth.

Behavior / temperament:
Bullsnakes are relatively easy to tame but by nature they are timid and will want to escape when threatened. When cornered, they spread their jaws to enlarge the head, puff up and exhale with a loud hissing sound. They are also observed to shake their tails to produce a rattling sound by beating on dry leaves and grass. Bullsnakes are popular in the pet trade because they are non-venomous and relatively docile. They react to aggression or threat (by displaying and hissing) but rarely strikes to bite.

Housing:
Bullsnakes are best kept in large cages that have loose, sandy soil that allows the snake to burrow. Recommended substrates include potting soil, ground coconut fibers, aspen shavings, newspaper, reptile carpeting, and cypress mulch. A small water dish should be provided for drinking. Day temp: 75-85F; night temp: 70F; lighting: 12 hours.

Bullsnakes can be housed singly or in pairs. The enclosure should be spot cleaned as needed, and disinfected regularly. Fresh drinking water should be provided daily.

Diet:
Like other Gopher snakes, Bullsnakes prefer small mammals. They are voracious eaters and will aggressively hunt for rats, squirrels, rabbits, pocket gophers (hence the common name), shrews, field mice, voles, and other rodents. They also eat frogs, lizards, chicks, and bird eggs. They are diurnal but can be seen hunting at sunset on warm nights.

Breeding:
Bullsnakes are oviparous. After coming out of hibernation, they mate from March to April and bury from half a dozen to two dozen eggs in loose, sandy soil from June to July. Eggs hatch in August to September.

wonderful

competent handler, active snake, gold pattern, hardy snakes, voracious feeders

challenging

awful odor, wild caught, secure lid, good escape artist, new reptile keeper

interesting

large imposing colubrid, North American natives, enlarged rostril scale

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