Bull snakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi) are a large non-venomous colubrid found throughout the central United States, northern Mexico and western Canada. Bull snakes often exceed 8ft (2.4m) in length which makes them among the largest snakes in the US.
They are usually yellow in colour, with brown, black or sometimes reddish coloured blotching and are available in many morphs. Bull snakes can be defensive and do take time to calm down, when threatened they will rear up to look as big as possible and then follows a strike and retreat strategy often with hissing until the threat goes away.
In the wild Bull snakes will eat small mammals such as mice, rats, large insects, as well as ground nesting birds, lizards and other snakes. In captivity they will readily eat defrosted mice, rats, gerbils and chicks. They are rather large constrictors that can be very enthusiastic when it comes to food so tongs are a must if you would like to strike feed your bull snake, although they will take prey that is placed on the floor of their vivariums.
Bull snakes are a largely terrestrial snake so a juvenile can easily be housed in a flat faunarium with a heat mat (thermostatically controlled) maintained at 28-30C at the hot end and 21-23C cold end, kitchen paper as substrate, two hides, one at the hot end and one at the cold end, a water bowl big enough for the snake to bathe in should it wish to do so and fake fauna to give your bull snake added security.
Adults should be housed in a vivarium that is 5x3x2ft with aspen as a substrate, humidity should be maintained at 50-60% which can be regulated by moving the water dish closer to the heat source and a gentle misting when the snake goes into shed, the heat source should be provided via a heat bulb, ceramic bulb or heat mat (guarded and thermostatically controlled), hides should be provided and fake fauna will give your bull snake an added sense of security.
Bull snakes are quite defensive but if you put the time and effort in whist they are young and handle them regularly they will become quite tame. It will take bull snakes about 3-4 days to digest food so be careful not to handle them for 3 days after feeding. As they are a terrestrial species they do require extra support to make them feel more secure, using both hands to support its weight will resolve this.
Bull snakes usually breed in March, laying in April-June and hatching August-September. They lay 5-22 eggs in damp sand. Hatchlings are usually grey until after their first shed and are around 8-18 inches long.
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