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Animal Data > Bull Snake

(Pituophus melanoleucus sayi)

Status Distribution Sexually Mature
Common Much of Central United States, east of the Rocky Mountains to western Indiana, north to southern Canada, south through central and western Texas into north eastern Mexico 3 years
Number of Young Gestation Life Span
10 70 days 20 years

Bull snakes live in a range of habitats in the United States, including grassy plains, prairies, sandy semi-desert, cactus ‘forests’ and agricultural areas such as wheat fields. They are yellowish-tan to yellow in colour and are thickly spotted with blotches of brown, reddish-brown or rust. The intensity of the colour varies more than the pattern and will depend on where the snake lives, for example, snakes from semi-desert areas with light coloured sands are usually very pale.

Although, capable burrowers, bull snakes are more likely to shelter in mammal burrows or cavities formed by the roots of fallen trees. Individuals living in southern Texas favour clumps of prickly pear cactus.

If disturbed or threatened bull snakes usually become very aggressive. They may hiss loudly or vibrate their tails. If the snake is on a surface such as dry leaves, this vibration will produce sounds similar to those made by a rattlesnake. This is intended to frighten any attacker, although, unlike rattle snakes bull snakes are not poisonous. Large individuals may also produce sounds similar to the snorts and grunts made by cattle, hence their common name of the bull snake.

Main Features

One of the largest species of snake in the United States. An average adult measures 5 ft, but may reach and exceed 9 ft.

In Captivity

Bull snakes live and breed well in captivity. They require dry, roomy caging with the temperature at 23-27°C. They may hibernate over winter and mating occurs in the spring immediately after hibernation. 20 or more eggs may be laid, although, a clutch size of 3-12 is more common. These eggs are relatively large (8-10 cm) and take 60-70 days to hatch (at 28°C).

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