Bull snake

Facts about Bull snake

We found 17 facts about Bull snake

One of the largest snakes in Canada and United States

They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to similar look and behavior. Bull snakes are found in areas abundant with rodents which are their favorite prey. In search for food they dig through soil with help of their rostral scale.

Many people wonder where they got their name? It's because of the sounds they emit when threatened: Hissing and bellowing, which resemble the sounds of snorting bull.

Bull snake
Bull snake is a subspecies of the Gophersnake.
Its Latin name is Pituophis catenifer sayi and it’s a member of Colubridae family.
They can be found in North America from British Columbia, southern Canada to northern Mexico.
The Bullsnake is one of the most widely distributed snake species in North America. Considering their wide geographic range, it turns out these snakes are highly adaptable to different climates and biomes.
They live in coniferous forests, fields, prairies, pastures, and savannas in sandy soil where rodents are easy to find.
Bullsnakes occupy rodent burrows or dig their own if they cannot find suitable shelter. They prefer dry environments.
Their skin is yellowish brown or creamy with dark brown or reddish brown blotches. Bottom of their body is pale yellow.
Juveniles have the same pattern as adults but are more pale.
Bullsnakes are heavy-bodied reptiles with body length ranging from 1,2 to 1,8 m (4 to 6 ft).

Larger specimens can be occasionally found, up to 2,5m (8ft 4 in).

Bull snakes average weight is 1 to 1,5 kg (2,2 to 3,3 lb.). Heaviest specimen recorded was 4,5 kg (9,9 lb.).

Bullsnake males are larger than females.
This is not common in snakes, as only about 14% of snake species have males larger than females.
They are not venomous.
To subdue and kill their prey they constrict it by wrapping around its body.
Bull snakes are diurnal reptiles.
They use sunlight to warm their bodies so can be encountered while basking in the sun. With proper body temperature they are ready to seek for food.
They prefer to eat small mammals and are an ally of humans in controlling harmful rodents.

Rats, squirrels, gophers, moles, and mice are the bull snake's favourite food. They also eat lizards and birds. Sometimes they raid bird nests and consume nestlings or brooding parents.

If their prey is small, bull snakes often consume it alive. They constrict only bigger prey.

They evaluate whether animal is predator or prey by its size.
If animal is too big to consume they take defensive action, otherwise they are ready to attack.
Most of them are docile but when feel endangered they imitate rattlesnake behavior.
They coil up, hiss, raise their tail and shake it.
Their active season begins in late April, when they awaken from hibernation.
Bullsnakes remain active until early October. They hibernate deeply burrowed below the frost line.
They start to mate in May and lay eggs in June and early July.

The nests can be in open areas as well as under rocks or logs.

Bullsnakes usually dig their nests singly, but communal nests also have been reported. Outside of the breeding season, bull snakes generally live as solitary individuals.

Female lays about 12 eggs in a hole and leave them without protection to hatch.
Bull snake eggs are 70 mm (2,7 in) in diameter, has an elliptical shape and leathery shell.
It takes around 60 days for bullsnake to hatch.
Newborn snakes are 25 to 43 cm (10 to 17 in) long.
In the wild, they live up to 12 years on average. Captive animals can live up to 30 years.
In the wild, they fall prey to most birds of prey, coyotes, foxes, weasels and other snakes.
They are classified as "Least concern" by the IUCN, but their population is declining.
Major cause is the disappearance of grasslands that are crucial for their reproduction. Another concern for their survival are roadkills.
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