Bullsnake (Pituophis catinefer sayi)
- The bullsnake is a heavy-bodied snake that ranges from three to five feet in length. They are overall beige to light brown with dark brown or black blotches. Their belly is yellowish with black spots.
- Life History
- Bullsnakes vary in temperament. Some are rather docile while others react very defensively toward anyone who attempts to handle them. They may hiss loudly or even posture themselves in an S-shaped curve to deter potential threats. Despite their menacing attitude, they are non-venomous and they will not strike unless severely provoked.
Bullsnakes are beneficial snakes because they eat quantities of mice, cotton rats, gophers and small mammals. They frequently are associated with prairie dog towns and burrowing animal systems where they eat ground squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs and ground-nesting birds. They usually hunt by day, but during hot summers they become increasingly active during the cool nights.
Bullsnakes lay eggs. Mating occurs in March and April once they emerge from hibernation. During June and July, five to 19 leathery eggs are laid in loose soil. Fifteen to 20 hatchlings emerge in early autumn.
Because bullsnakes move slowly, they frequently are killed while crossing roads. They may also meet certain death while basking roadways. Road mortality along with habitat destruction are two elements that plague the otherwise long-lived bullsnake. One is known to have survived in captivity for 22 years.
- Bullsnakes prefer sandy soils in fields, brushlands and grasslands.
- Bullsnakes occur in the western, southern and southeastern United States. They are very common throughout Texas except for the extreme east and extreme western Trans-Pecos.