A very large reddish female bull snake, Pituophis catenifer sayi
Digital Image by Patrick Briggs and Pete Marshall
Digital Image by Patrick Houston Briggs 2016
Below is a bull snake wild caught as a hatchling from Kankakee County Illinoise near the border of Indiana in the sandy region below Lake
Michigan. He is another founder male for many of those bred in California. At about 6 feet, he is an exceptional animal named Schuyler.
Digital Image By Patrick Houston Briggs 2016
Pituophis catenifer sayi (Red Morph Female)
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs
A reddish bull snake Pituophis catenifer sayi
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs
The REAL RED BULL
Photo Slide by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy John Ginter
A very large red female bull snake, Pituophis catenifer sayi
Digital Image by Patrick Briggs and Pete Marshall
Pete Marshall and Jerry Boyer attempt to display a natural occurring hypomorph from Texas, the Davis Mountain bull snake.
A similar morph, locality of western Texas, sometimes called the Christmas Mountain Bull Snake, actually a gopher snake also is bred now.
See the affinis pages for that other morph.
Photo by Patrick Briggs
Davis Mountain Bull snake September 2016
Digital Image by Patrick Briggs
Jonel Lopez's Red bull snake morph: http://www.spsnakes.com/pictures/mysnakes/rbull_kingsville_f_2yo_2.jpg
KJUN Snakehaven Red bull snakes worth every dollar!: http://www.kjun.us/gallery/84.jpg
Baby KJUN Snakehaven Red bull snakes : http://www.kjun.us/images/53.jpg
Ginter Line Kingville Texas bull snake: http://www.kjun.us/images/55.jpg
Crumbly Line Red bull snake: http://www.kjun.us/images/54.jpg
KJUN Snakehven albino baby bull snakes: http://www.kjun.us/gallery/33.jpg
Adult albino KJUN bull snake: http://www.kjun.us/gallery/101.jpg
Trumbower and Bell line Whitesided bull snakes: http://www.cherryvillereptiles.com/bull/white.html
Beautiful wild Colorado bull snake in front of its habitat:
Stillwater Oklahoma Hypomelanistic Bullsnake
Photo slide by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy John Ginter
An incredible looking wild bull snake collected
from Hopkins Park Village sand hills in Kankakee County Illinois
("Schuyler" breeder founder male #2)
This wild collected male was 70 inches total length on April 20, 2015
Photo by Patrick Briggs
2- year- old black Bull Snake collected in Kankakee Illinois as a neonate
Photo image by Pat Briggs courtesy Dick Buchholz
Upper View of an adult female bull snake about 69 inches in length from Kankakee County Illinois (Shawna founder female)
Digital image photographed by Patrick Houston Briggs 2014
The ventral view of a female bull snake about 69 inches long from Hopkins Park Village sand hills in Kankakee County Illinois (Shawna founder female)
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs
Left Side Closeup Head Study of a female bull snake Pituophis catenifer sayi from Kankakee County Illinois (Shawna founder female)
Digital Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs 2014
Head Study when view from above of a female bull snake Pituophis catenifer sayi from Kankakee County Illinoise (Shawna founder female)
Photo image by Patrick Briggs 2014
Chin and Throat Region of a bull snake Pituophis catenifer sayi from Kankakee County Illinois (Shawna founder female)
Digital Photograph by Pat Briggs 2014
Closeup Study of the Rostral looking straight on of a female bull snake from Kankakee County Illinois (Shawna founder female)
Digital Photo Study by Patrick Houston Briggs
Pituophis catenifer sayi
(This subadult earlier was collected as a possible yearling male in 2009 from the Kankakee, Illinois region. Later, he matured,
was called Michael, male#1, and was bred to a female from the same area. She produced her first eggs and young in 2012.)
Photo below by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Dick Buchholz
Close head study of a fine looking bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nancyhawkins/5829984079/
A few nice Pit images: http://www.reptileforums.co.uk/forums/snakes/568854-get-your-pits-out-9.html
Alberta Canada bull snake info: http://srd.alberta.ca/FishWildlife/SpeciesAtRisk/documents/SAR62-Bullsnakes.pdf
Black bull snakes from Indiana and habitat: http://www.sunshineserpents.com/Captive%20Breeding%20Projects/Black%20Bull%20Snake.htm
A nice video of an angry hissing Texas bull snake: http://zomobo.net/play.php?id=rd3OKHyvOSs
A nice white "Snow Morph" bull snake: http://www.ruddockreptiles.com/collection/bull_snakes.html
North Dakota bull snake: http://dinolou.com/nd05.html
Sarpy County Nebraska bull snakes with some wild hypos: http://www.froggieb.com/rBullPhotos.html
Kansas bull snake map range: http://www.k-state.edu/herplab/snakes/bull.htm
Barton, Kansas bull snake: http://jasonksepka.smugmug.com/Animals/Animals/12629787_tRDni#!i=1254165635&k=VsbfMtK&lb=1&s=A
Iowa bull snakes, Herp Journal: http://www.herpjournal.com/2005/6_16_05/pages/6_16_05.html
Illinois bull snake images: http://ilherps.tripod.com/id74.html
Wyoming bull snake with black round vertebral blotches like spots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10389415@N04/1010002008/
Caterina, South Texas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8954721@N04/3531255929/
Springfield Illinois bull snake searching for food in swallow's nest in a mud hole: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yanktonbirds/6999028600/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/yanktonbirds/6999007558/in/photostream/
Bad Lands National Park South Dakota bull snake http://www.flickr.com/photos/elliot_stahl/3786296422/in/photostream/
Fort Ringgold Texas bull snake eating a Mexican ground squirrel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60597156@N06/6253106580/
Alberta Canadian bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_kav/7104938097/
New Mexican bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/macrutan/4810873527/
New Mexican bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/macrutan/4810874723/
Minnesota bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettwhaley/7058508457/
Minnesota bull snake wild adult: http://www.flickr.com/photos/richardsajdak/2496252326/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Sabino Canyon, Arizona: http://www.flickr.com/photos/searchnetmedia/4414688846/in/photostream/
Finney, Kansas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8510434@N06/6798909725/
Russell, Kansas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8510434@N06/6798911083/
Pierre, South Dakota bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8510434@N06/6798910367/
Finney, Kansas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8510434@N06/6798909579/
Mason County Illinios bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40099582@N05/3689409673/
Castle Rock, Colorado bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurenobrien/5461392069/
A wild creamy-caramel colored bull snake beauty found on a private ranch near Pandale, Texas: http://www.flickr.com/photos/centavo/2563636378/
Pituophis Mount Bennett Hills south of Fairfield, Idaho: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildoutdoors09/4018389246/
A bull snake from southeastern New Mexico: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanq/8016332858/
A bull snake from Abiquiu, New Mexico: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blueskydesert/1581795150/
Marana, Arizona bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twodphotography/2971026774/
Rio Grande River bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brittrunyon/4662660609/
Adult wild Colorado bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wild_images/5835746871/
Natural hybrid Pituophis cateifer x Patherophis vulpinus: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1670/10-260
A normal "Stillwater, Oklahoma" bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hghjim/2045547954/in/set-72157603233540189
Kingville Red morph female bull snake with eggs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hghjim/2298770769/in/set-72157603233540189
Cherryville Farms Bull Snakes: http://www.cherryvillereptiles.com/bull.html
Male sayi grasping the female's head for leverage during copulation: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75273119@N00/508745909/
Hybino bull snake mutation: http://suncoastherps.com/animals/pits/hybinobull.php
A bull snake peers out from under the still clear water: http://www.sibleynaturecenter.org/photoessays/snakebehaviors/23.jpg
Below, a bull snake in Yellowstone National Park:
Jonel M. Lopez: http://www.spsnakes.com/snakes.htm
See the image on the site below of a bull snake from its nearly most northerly range, Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park in Canada.
Minnesota bull snake, range map, and info: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=ARADB26020
Pryor, Montana bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76028129@N00/180997223/
South Dakota bull snake: http://www.wildphotosphotography.com/WildPhotos/HERPS/bull_snake.htm
North Dakota bull snake: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/herps/amrepnd/species/pitucate.htm
Colorado bull snake: http://webspinners.com/coloherp/geo/species/spepica.php
Jim Keenen and many other images of Pituophis from flckr:
Wisconsin bull snake: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/endangeredresources/animals.asp?mode=detail&speccode=aradb26020
A bull snake eating a ground squirrel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4NFT2z_YE
A nice "Tom Green County Texas" bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdbeerd/2517083561/
An incredible looking wild bull snake from Curry, New Mexico: http://ilijalukicphotography.blogspot.com/2011/06/colubrid-encounter.html
A light colored bull snake cruizing the surface of some murky water: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marco_5280/3544238306/
A bull snake on highway 156 in New Mexico: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/38153219
Are bull snakes in extreme northeastern Arkansas? Maybe. http://www.herpsofarkansas.com/Snake/PituophisCatenifer#Gallery
Wisconsin Bull snake: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/endangeredresources/animals.asp?mode=detail&speccode=aradb26020
Wabasha County Minnesota bull snake this site: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=ARADB26020
Wabasha County Minnesota bull snake again: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71774899@N00/2829603864/
East-central New Mexico bull snake agitated two images:
A very large Northern Colorado bull snake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr2OpPc3fNY
Kansas bull snake: http://herpjournal.com/2003/Kansas_03/5_03_03/fullsize/bullsnake1_1.JPG
Linn County, Iowa bull snake: http://herpjournal.com/2009/20090515/fullsize/20090515_14.jpg http://herpjournal.com/2009/20090515/pages/20090515.html
3 Pituophis subspecies in New Mexico, and atleast 3 intergrades of races: http://home.comcast.net/~herpsofnm/Species_Profiles/Pi_Catenifer.htm
Merriman, Nebraska bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/7489197900/
Montana bull snake: http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/node/1319
Missouri range map and bull snake collection study beginning 1952 to current: http://atlas.moherp.org/taxon/?Pituophis_catenifer
Nebraska bull snakes: http://www.froggieb.com/rBullPhotos.html
Nebraska bull snake range map, image, and info: http://snr.unl.edu/herpneb/snake/BullSnake.html
Boulder Colorado bull snakes battle for dominance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3f9SiTcZIM
Salt n' Pepper bull snake morph: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hghjim/3360898780/in/set-72157603233540189
Albino speckled patternless bull snake morph: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hghjim/3360896752/in/set-72157603233540189
A bull snake from Lookout Mountain near Spearfish in Arizona: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23826111@N06/4549411825/in/photostream/
Minnesota bull snake hiss on video: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grizzlygroundswell/4836005247/in/photostream/
Minnesota bull snake image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grizzlygroundswell/4835661211/in/photostream/
Cerrillos New Mexico bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madridminer/2589107956/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/madridminer/2589107886/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/madridminer/2589107886/in/photostream/
Wabasha County, Minnesota bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/squamatologist/2829603864/
Mescalero Sands, New Mexico bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fingerprinceprints/5134331292/
Pierre South Dakota bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdpb/4047353589/
West Kansas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cassawcreative/6031498812/
Cooper, Montana on Ryan Island, a bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leshii/565719078/
Medicine Hat, Alberta Canada bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rheawilson2010/4519138507/
Briscoe County Texas bull snake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrickberden/4339335130/
Possible wild intergrade sayi x deserticola Cerrillos, New Mexico: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madridminer/3781212907/in/photostream/
Saskatchewan, Canada bull snake head study: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31270106@N07/4589929214
Tom Green county Texas bull snake video hissing and rattling: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdbeerd/2517901090/
Saskatchewan, Canada bull snake in window well: http://www.lonepinephoto.ca/gallery/REPTILES/image/22/BULL_SNAKE_IN_WINDOW_WELL_SASKATCHEWAN_LANDING_PROVINCIAL_PARK
Chafee Countym Colorado bull snake: http://www.schmoker.org/BirdPics/BullSnake.html
Montana Range Map and images of the bull snake: http://fieldguide.mt.gov/detail_ARADB26020.aspx
Wabaunsee, Kansas bull snake: http://herpjournal.com/2003/Kansas_03/5_03_03/pages/5_03_03.html
Iowa bull snake range and images:
Lincoln County Kansas bull snake: http://herpjournal.com/2004/Kansas_2/05_18_04/pages/05_18_04.html
Mammath Hot Springs in Yellowstone Nat. Park bull snake: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-1390560/stock-photo-bull-snake-closeup-pituophis-melanoleucus-also-commonly-referred-to-as-a-gopher-snake-or-pine.html
Envy breeders of Pituophis: http://www.envyreptiles.com/index.php?option=com_phocagallery&view=category&id=1:bulls&Itemid=56
Wisconsin bull snakes: http://www.angelfire.com/ab6/jnjkapfer/bullsnake.htm%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3Fp%3DPituophis%26n%3D30%26ei%3Dutf-8&sigb=1267m7til&imgs=yahoohq&
Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi
"A beautiful wild collected Illinois specimen" Schuyler male #2
Photo by Patrick Briggs
Bull Snake ( Schlegel, 1837 )
Pituophis catenifer sayi
By Patrick H. Briggs
The Bull Snake is truly a magnificent animal. The first one observed and recorded seems to be August 5, 1804, near the mouth of the Niobrara River in Nebraska. This nonvenomous reptile grows to be a powerful constrictor that usually feeds on several varieties of rodents, birds, their fledglings and eggs. When it is dry, cold or when the temperature is extremely high, these ophidians can become quite fossorial. Ideal temperatures, high precipation, and abundance of surface food can motivate them to move about above ground. If surprized or aggitated, they will shake their tails, lift up their head while flattening it, and sound the most intimidating hissing, and subsequently, lunge forward for the strike hoping to scare off the intruder. The hisses were compared to a bull's bellowing long ago and so they received their common or vernacular name, "bull snake". Some exceptionally large individuals in the wild can reach lengths being upwards to 8 feet, but usually they grow to about 5 or 6 feet in the wild.
Pituophis catenifer sayi as it is known in the scientific world, receives its subspecific epithet sayi which was taken from a latin modified form of Thomas P. Say, who was a natural scientist and explorer for the Academy in Philadelphia in the early 1800s.
The bull snake is one of 8 subspecies within the U.S. and Mexico( or 10 if you include the 2 mainland Baja California forms) of the species Pituophis catenifer. The other subspecies are all referred to as gopher snakes. Compared to the other subspecies, its rostral is generally narrower and much higher than it is wide. The rostral scale is also raised well above adjacent scales. Its snout appears fairly pointed when viewed from above. Robert C. Stebbins (slightly different than Olive Stull's report) reports 33-66 black, brown, or rusty body blotches and 9-19 black tail spots. The base of each light interblotch scale usually darkened. The ground color is pale to light yellow and the nape of the neck is heavily spotted with black. There are 29-37 midbody scale rows.
The bull snake's range is vast, and it occurs from southern Alberta, Canada west to eastern central Idaho, and east to western Indiana and south to the state of Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. Because of its wide geographical range, this race varies in pattern and color corresponding to each region. In many natural areas where it occurs, such as areas of Texas, Oklahoma, or specific areas of Mexico, its ground color is beige or light tan with the upper neck and tail region's blotches, spots, or markings being darker than the upper midbody's and those markings outlined with an even darker border. Other areas such as western Indiana, it is very dark, even black with light borders and spotting. Many specific localities within a state are red, high yellow, cream, or even white! Natural intergrades of races can make things even more interesting! Some of these physical characteristics or morphs either found in subspecies or species are interesting to observe when collected in the wild.
Distribution: Pituophis catenifer sayi: Canada (S Alberta, S Saskatchewan), USA (Montana, SW North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, E New Mexico, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma (BURT 1935), Wisconsin, Texas), Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas); Type locality: Missouri.(W Indiana and Wisconsin to S Alberta, south to Texas and NE Mexico; isolated records from NE Texas)
See this bull snake at this site of Jonel M. Lopez for a more typical pattern and color: http://www.spsnakes.com/pictures/mysnakes/quadhetmale_adult.jpg
One of my favorite natural occurring morphs (phenotype) occurs in northeastern Illinois near the border of Indiana and into Indiana, from the village of Hopkins Park sand pits in Kankakee County of Illinois and adjacent Newton of Jasper County Indiana. Individuals from this area sport rich black necks and tails with some thin chain-like light colored bands to separate the vertebral blotches that also deliniate the spots, lines, or markings along the sides. The mid-body upper blotches from those indigenous to this area are sometimes a light or dark reddish-brown, but they can also be nearly as black as the rest of the body. I've successfully bred and produced this morph from snakes collected from this area many times, even producing two clutches in the same year. (See the images and info on these pages)
Another morph that I enjoy just as much is a red morph which also comes from several localities such as Kingville in southern Texas, and comes in different pattern types. Breeders are mixing red individuals from varying localities to maximize the vividness of red in subsequent offspring. Those occupying natural localities in the wild are sometimes a beautiful red while others of the same locale remain beige and brown, or they may be somewhat red. Additionally, many of these snakes hatch with drabby color, and the red or orange intensifies with maturity. Others, are born with a small amount of orange or red or a blend of yellow suffused with a powdery reddish coloration that seems to bursts more vividly with reddish-orange every time they shed. Whatever the color or pattern of the locality, each individual with its respective morph will exhibit extremely different patterns at each end of its own body, each end looking as if it were composed of two or three different bull snakes at different points down the length of the same snake.
As previously mentioned, because of its great range and different habitat types, the ground color of the more common localities is quite varied and may be pale yellow, tan, creamish, or reddish with the nape coloration darker or even black slightly mixed or suffused with light ground color. Per Olive Stull, dorsally, from the neck to the vent, there may be 33-68 black, gray, brown, or rusty body blotches that may be 2-5 scales long and 9-12 wide. Past the vent above, there are 8-20 dark tail spots, as documented so thoroughly by the late herpetologist, Olive Stull. She recorded the light interspaces usually being 1-4 scales long. She also comments that these interspaces occasionally have a narrow median dark transverse streak and also that frequently the light scales, as well as the light scales of the sides, each bear a small median or anterior spot. Along the sides, there are also 3 or 4 series of dark spots that alternate with one another and also the dorsal series, and often fusing one with another, and with the median series at the edges forming a kind of what she calls a "syncytium", a coming together or fusion, especially at the anterior portion of the body. The belly may be pale and heavily or slightly marked, but there is nearly always a series of black spots along the edges separated by 1-4 belly scutes. The top of the head carries the ground color that is sometimes slightly rosey, and it is dappled or marked with black. The rear of the head and nape have a dark spot on nearly every scale. Black markings or streaks mark nearly all or every suture of the upper and lower labials. At the front of a pointed snout is the rostral which is much higher (longer) than wide, and raised or "cornified" well above the nearby scales. As this is a fossorial (ground dwelling) ophidian, this re-enforced rostral facilitates burrowing and moving earth. Running from the back of each eye to the angle of the jaw, there is usually a dark stripe sometimes bordered above and below with a lighter edge or bar. Either the 4th, 5th, or 6th supralabial enters the eye.
Bull Snakes generally grow from 37-72 inches (94.8-183 centimeters). A record of 100 inches has been recorded by Conant and Collins (1998). Bull snakes along with other Pituophis are becoming more and more popular to collectors and in the pet trade. I've seen these animals in captivity under ideal circumstances for growing to have already exceeded the wild length record. They are displayed from time to time with their keepers online.
Another change occuring with bull snakes in captivity is that many of the natural patterns from the offspring of specific locations that attracted the first collectors and breeders are now struggling to compete as money makers in the pet trade as more extreme and beautiful patterns and other aberrant forms arise. These morphs are sold under many different marketing names that reflect the morph in one way or another. They may reflect the name of the breeder with his bloodline type, or a location of the first parent stock, even a highway where similar morphs are found, or it may just describe the pattern morph or phenotype. Some of these morphs are already sold by the following names:
See the Dav Kaufman list on Bull snake morphs below.
Current Market Morphs:
1-Albino 2-Red Albino 3-Patternless 4-Red 5-Albino Patternless 6-Red Albino Patternless 7-Whitesided 8-Albino Whitesided Snow 9-Hypo Whitesided Ghost 10-Hypo Whitesided axanthic 11-Patternless Hypo Whitesided Patternless Ghost 12-Patternless Whitesided Lavendar Ghost 13-Patternless Albino Whitesided Blizzard 14-Patternless Whitesided 15-Albino Patternless Whitesided 16-Hypo Stillwater 17-Hypo Iowa 18-Red Hypo 19-Hypo Patternless 20-Hypo Albino Hybino-Sunglow 21-Hypo Albino Patternless Sunglow 22-Axanthic Miami Co 23-Axanthic Omaha 24-Axanthic Patternless 25-Axanthic Hypo Patternless Pewter Bulls 26-Axanthic Whitesided 27-Axanthic Patternless 28-Hypo Axanthic 29-Snow Axanthic x Albino 30-Hypo Snow Moonglow 31-Whitesided Patternless Lavandar Ghost 32-Ivory Iowa Hypo Whitesided 33-Lavandar Ghost 34-Axanthic x Hypo True Ghost 35-Red Whitesided Sunrise 36-Granite 37-Double Albino Granite 38-Fire Bulls Kingville Red x Stillwater Hypo
Coming in the Future: 39-Patternless Lavandar Snow 40-Patternless Moonglow 41-Hypo Whitesided Axanthic 42-Patternless Hypo Whitesided Patternless Ghost 43-Stillwater Hypo Patternless 44-Patternless Fire Bulls
Locality Bull Snake Morphs: 45-Kankakee Bulls Black Bulls 46-Yellow Bulls 47-HWY 277 Bulls or "Monster Bulls" growing near 10 feet long 48-Dwarf Bulls Red Lodge Montana 49-Spring Green near Madison Wisconsin
Breeding Bull snakes
Identifying the gender of a bull snakes is accomplished through the use of a probe that is lubricated and subsequently and carefully slid into the vent at one side or the other directed toward and inside one of two tubular pockets in the tail that go as deep as 8-16 subcaudals in males and only 2-3 in females. These pockets are the hemipenes in males and the hemipenial homologs in females. A stainless steel probe about 1/4th in diameter (thickness) to the length of the anal plate usually is appropriate for bull snakes. To avoid ophidian injuries, only those experienced should use the cloacal probing technique. An obvious note is that to gain that experience, the one without experience can learn from and assist the person who has done it before many times successfully.
In order to successfully breed bull snakes, you must first think ahead and make decisions accordingly. Which snake or snakes will you be breeding with which others? Do you need to put a different male in with the female than last year for a new gene pool, or are you breeding back into this years clutch a relative for a desired or selected trait? Whatever your goal or plan is, remember that the females should be at least 2 years old with enough girth to survive the "cooling period" of brumation and be ready for breeding shortly afterward. Although the males need not be as heavy as the females to breed, they need to be healthy, mature, and large enough to be successful.
Stop feeding those selected breeders that are healthy and ready and begin dropping the temperature to 65-70 degrees for about a week sometime in November. Besides the substrate, keep only water in the vivarium, enclosure, plastic sweater box, or whatever it is that you use. This allows them to clear out their gut of food wastes and stay hydrated before the dormant period of brumation. Also, keep water in the brumating enclosure or container during the whole cooling period.
Captive bull snakes do not need to brumate, and young snakes are better off not brumating so that they can eat and grow, but adult bull snakes are more receptive to breeding in the spring time if brumated.
The second week drop the temperature another 5 degrees or so to about 60-65 degrees and the third week another 5, to 55-60 degrees and finally, sometime in December, keep the room dark and drop the temperature to 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit until about mid February before starting the warming process for females, and near the beginning of March for Males (about 3 months cooling period).
At first, bring the temperature up to about 70 degrees for about 5 days and then to about 75-80 degrees for a couple days and feed them a small meal such as an adult mouse or a mouse-sized rat. Continue this every 3 days or so and after the males have digested their first meal and have shed their skin.(remember that they were warmed about 2 weeks later than the females), When you put them together as pairs to mate, observe how interested the male is in the female. Before doing this, you may choose to put a different male's shed skin or some shavings from another male's cage in with the breeding male's female. The other male's scent sometimes triggers a stronger breeding response from the true male. Leave the males in with females all day, but take them out each day for a week. Make sure you have seen them court or mate "hook up" at least once before you stop putting them together. The male will attempt to line up his body perpendicular to the female's. He will "twitch" or massage her back at different points with his belly muscles and press his tail base against one side or the other of hers just past the vent. He will next, wag his tail all over hers to further stimulate her and pursuade her to lift her tail, a sign that she's willing to mate. If she is slow to respond, he subsequently, may grasp or bite the female's head, neck, or body and not release his grip to get better leverage for copulation.
(Click to this site to see a male bull snake grasping the female's head for leverage. It doesn't seem to bother her, sometimes, she will seem to appreciate it.) http://www.flickr.com/photos/75273119@N00/508745909/in/photostream/
This also seems to stimulate or excite her to lift up her tail. The male also encourages her cooperation by rubbing curves of his body on hers and massaging her tail with his own shortly before penetration of one side or the other of his hemipene. They may stay connected only a few minutes or an hour, or even longer sometimes.They may copulate several times during the week.
Continue to feed the females as many smaller rats or mice as she wants to eat during the breeding and gestation period. If the food is large, she will most likely refuse it. During this period, much smaller prey is easier for her to digest, so she will be willing to take small food items more often. Even if she eats larger or her normal sized food, if the prey animals are too big for her body to accommodate her eggs and large food items, she may vomit them up a couple days later. Additionally, try to keep the temperature above 75 and below 85 degrees Fahrenheit; if it becomes too low or high, it could also cause her to spit up her food. As for the breeding male, he may not want to eat for awhile because his attention may be more focused on sex than food, but eventually, he will feed.
Wild caught female Kankakee County bull snake ("Shawna" founder female breeder #1) 2012, 1st year gravid below.
Photo by Patrick H. Briggs
As she approaches the due date to lay her eggs, you will see her fill out towards the rear part of her body until her eyes begin to cloud up for a pre-lay shed. This is a good time to prepare an egg laying box with moist green moss, sphagnum moss or some other soaked and squeezed out substrate. I prefer a somewhat translucent plastic egg-laying box. I buy mine at the Michael's craft store. Put a hole in the top or side a bit wider than her girth so that she can enter it and she will. Never leave a watering bowl in the cage around laying time. Sometimes a confused snake will deposit the eggs right into the water ruining every egg. About a month after she lays her eggs, you can begin feeding her the larger rats again.
In 2012, one of my Kankakee females that I call "Shawna-founder female #1" laid only one month after copulation. She was a wild collected Kankakee bull snake female that appeared to be when collected, a wild September hatchling from 2009. March of 2012, she would have been about 2 1/2 years old. I put her with a wild collected male from the same area that was about a year older that I labeled "Michael-founder male #1". Before breeding, I began warming her up a few weeks before warming the male as I also do with other Pituophis and Lampropeltis species.
She copulated with (Michael fndr ml #1) on Wednesday March 7, 2012 and she deposited her first clutch of eggs on Saturday April 7, 2012 (31 days later). With natural incubation averaging about 81-82 degrees varying up or down some days, they hatched Saturday, June 2, 2012 (56 days after eggs were laid or 87 days from copulation). The hatchlings were 14-16 inches long.
The following year she (Shawna, founder female # 1) was much larger and copulated (with Schuyler founder male #2) on March 21, 2013. She laid 9-(3" eggs) on May 3, 2013. All 9 eggs hatched July 10, 11, and 12, 2013 (see hatching eggs below). The hatchlings were large 171/4-191/2 inches long. The eggs were incubated at 80-83 degrees Fahrenheit. See eggs hatching below. These very fiesty neonates started eating 1-2 (3" rat pups) at first and were eating adult mice only two months later! In July of 2014, still less than a year old, one of the neonate females more than doubled its length and was measuring around 46 inches.
My female Kankakee County Illinois bull snake hold-back was from 2013 offspring from (Shawna- wild female) and (Schuyler-wild male).
On September 7, 2014, at about 14 months, I measured her (Linda) to be 48" in length!
Image by Pat Briggs
Early in March 2014, I bred Shawna to Michael again and it seems that on April 22, 2014, she deposited 15 nice eggs. I fed her 3 or 4 mice twice within about 8 days and allowed her to digest both meals and subsequently, put Michael (f#1 male) back in with her. About a month later on Saturday, May 31, 2014 4:00 P.M., she deposited a second clutch this year of 13 healthy eggs. One egg is small but it appears to be healthy and good. She ate a few mice two days in a row but the following morning, probably due to complications after oviposition of the second clutch of eggs, she was found dead on June 3, 2014. On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, the first clutch deposited on the 22nd of April began to hatch and continued on the 11th and 12th of June 2014. Everyone of the eggs hatched again and these neonates were around 16 inches, healthy and plump but not as long as those produced from the other male (Schuyler). These neonates were also more passive and not so fiesty and nervous as those produced last year from the (Schuyler). The neonates of this clutch produced 8 males and 7 females that had their first shed all by the 21st, and 3 of them about to shed a second time. Those 3 only, possible hold-backs, were kept in a room at about 85 degrees nearly constant whereas the others were kept outside where temperature fluctuates from 70 to about 95.
The 3 digital images below by Patrick Houston Briggs
2013 Kankakee Bull snake eggs hatching
Below, Shawna founder female #1 deposits her second clutch of 13 good eggs for the year of 2014 on May 31, 2014.
For her 1st clutch of the year, she laid 15 eggs on April 21, 2014.
Young Kankakee Bull Snakes that hatched June 10, 11, and 12, 2014 from the clutch deposited on April 22, 2014
Digital by Patrick Briggs
Below is the little Kankakee County bull snake that I decided to hold from the second clutch of eggs of 2014. She's darker above
with consistent narrow light interspaces and on the sides, she has larger dark spots or markings.
Photo by Patrick Briggs
Below is the same snake as above a year later.
Below is the same yearling snake as that above.
The little snake below is a Hybrid produced in captivity by crossing Pituophis catenifer sayi and
Pituophis deppei jani, then later breeding one of the female aberrant offspring back to the
male jani again. You can see the mother a few images down.
Digital Image by Patrick Houston Briggs
Another hybrid below, but this one is a year older.
A third hybrid sibling to the one above.
Below is the mother of those above. She is enormous, and a hybrid of the red bull snake at the top of these bull snake pages that
was crossed with a jani male shown in the jani pages.The father of those above is also the same jani, so he's their father and grandfather.
Digital Image by Patrick Briggs, Courtesy Pete Marshall, the breeder
Below, Shawna founder female #1 deposits her second clutch of 13 good eggs for the year of 2014 on May 31, 2014.
Due to the growth of the eggs within her, the gravid female eventually will become quite large and her eyes will soon begin to cloud up indicating that she will soon molt. A day or so after the eyes clear up again, she will begin the pre-lay shed. Before this time, you should have already introduced her to the moist nesting box. If the substrate is not too wet and the temperature is appropriate, she will use the nesting box. Prior to oviposition of eggs, the female's body will be thick posteriorly on her body. The eggs can usually be easily felt in her at that time. The gravid femele will usually lay the eggs in a clutch above the surface of the moist substrate provided within the week after the molt. After separating the eggs from the female, you may choose to leave the eggs in the nesting box for incubation or you may take the eggs out and place them separately in a different box with moist vermiculite or some other incubationing substrate. Many breeders mix about 15-20% perlite to the vermiculite to make sure the mix doesn't stick. I don't, and don't seem to be having problems. I have also used moist cypress mulch or no substrate ( a bare plastic box with a bowl of water for humidity) at all with success many times. If you handle the eggs, and choose to pull apart those that have stuck together, do it slowly and carefully. If you think by doing so that you might damage any of the eggs that seem stuck too tight, don't do it, they hatch fine stuck together. Also, try to maintain the position of the eggs as they were laid. If you need to, lightly mark with a dot the egg tops with a permanent marker to assist you before removing them to another box and placing them with dots upward. Incubate the eggs at 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a small bowl of water in the corner of the box with the eggs to help keep up the humidity.They should hatch in about 8 weeks. Whenever all the eggs have looked good immediately after oviposition, I have nearly always had a 100% success rate of snakes that had hatched and that were healthy. When the eggs start to hatch, sometimes the little snakes remain in the eggs for a day or so. That allows them to soak up the remaining yoke fluid before they exit the egg completely. They will also have a duller color than normal until they shed the outer skin in about a week. Feed the neonates newborn "pinkie" rats or mice within a week or so.
Photos by Patrick Briggs
Before copulation, the male bull snake will form short curves along the length of her back and will caress or massage her at different points while waving his tail all over hers. At different times, he will press the base of his tail past her cloacal opening along one side or another, and then curl it underneath. Subsequently, he may grasp the female by the head, neck, or body in his mouth to get better leverage and it may also serve to stimulate her further to lift her tail so that he can slide into one of her homolog pouches, one of his hemipenes.
The image below is the author's Kankakee founder male #2, Schuyler breeding to Kankakee founder female #1, Shawna on March 21, 2013.
Below:The 2nd year breeding Shawna, female #1 who bred on March 21, 2013 to Schuyler, male #2, laid 9 eggs on May 3, 2013 (43 days later).
Digital photos by Patrick Houston Briggs
Hatchling bull snake eating a young rat "pinkie pup"
One week old 2013 19-inch male below from the clutch of eggs above hatched July 10, 2013
This neonate male was exported to a biologist in England Photo by Patrick H. Briggs
A Kankakee County Bull snake mother (Shawna) with her 3 week old hatchling son of the 2013 clutch.
Digital Photo by Patrick H. Briggs
Below, Shawna laid 15 eggs probably April 21, 2014 the day before I returned from a visit to Hawaii.
This is her 3rd breeding year. Early in March, I bred her with Michael founder male #1 this year.
Photo by Pat Briggs
Shawna, the snake below laid 15 eggs in April 2014.
Photo by Pat Briggs
In southern Texas of the Rio Grande Valley a bull snake kills by constriction a ground squirrel and eats it on video.
Mandibles 17-21 becoming smaller in length toward the rear.
Maxillaries 16-17 also decreasing in size towards the rear.
Palantines 9-11 smaller than both the mandibular and maxillary teeth.
Pterygoids 9-13 even more smaller than the palantines and also progressively becoming smaller toward the rear.
Rostral (nearly twice as long as Azygos (often present between frontal &
broad and penetrating 1/3rd-all prefrontals, preocular and prefrontal, or
the distance between internasals) between postnasal and prefrontal)
Neck 25-35 prefrontals 4 (plus azygos if present)
Midbody Rows 28-37 Loreal (usually present sometimes divided)
Anterior To Vent Rows 21-27 Supralabials 7-10
Ventrals 212-244 Infralabials 10-15
Caudals 46-67 Preoculars 1-3
Anal Single Postoculars 2-5
(See Olive G. Stull, Bltn 175, p. 22, U.S. Ntl. Msm)
(See REPTILES Magazine April 2001, Pituophis Parade, By Patrick Briggs, p. 48-73)
Photo by Mike Pingleton
Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi (Illinois Specimen)
Digital Image by Pat Briggs Courtesy Pete Marshall September 2016
Photo below by Jonathan Wright 2009
Pituophis catenifer sayi reportedly wild from Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Texas Bull snake Pituophis catenifer sayi
Brady Texas 2007
Photo by Dick Buchholz
Photo Patrick Houston Briggs courtesy Dick Buchholz (Wild hatchling female from Kankakee, Illinois region 2009) P. c. sayi baby "Shawna" female #1
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs
(The female below depositing eggs April 7, 2012 was collected from Kankakee County
in 2009 as a hatchling and bred to a wild male from the same area.)
Photo by Patrick Briggs
Below is one of the eggs of the female above hatching.
Photo by Dick Buchholz (Notice the upper 4 prefrontals on this young Bullsnake from Brady, Texas--November 2007)
An adult pair of wild collected Kankakee County Bull Snakes collected 2009. They were
bred and copulated March 7, 2012, laid eggs April 7, and the eggs hatched June 2, 2012.
Michael, f. male left was collected as a yearling, and Shawna, f. female right, as a hatchling.
On April 19, 2015 Michael (the older male) who has always been a moderate feeder and very gentile measured 63 inches in total length.
Notice also that the wild founder male Michael is tri-colored whereas the founder female Shawna is bicolored for the 2012 year breeding.
The following year, I bred Shawna to another wild founder male; Schuyler male #2 who was found as a hatchling in 2009 like Shawna.
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs
Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs Courtesy Lloyd Lemke
Radio transmitters have already been implanted in snakes in three areas of southern Saskatchewan — Big Muddy Valley, Frenchman River Valley and South Saskatchewan River Valley — since 2008. Researchers can find the snakes and follow them by holding an antenna that homes in on the signal of any transmitter-wearing snakes nearby, no matter where they may be hiding.This year, the tracking program has expanded to the banks of the South Saskatchewan River north of Swift Current, the very northern tip of the snake's range.
Left Dick Buchholz with a big Kankakee bull snake and Right is Pat Briggs with a large Black pine snake (August 20,2014)