CINCUATE BULL SNAKE(Sometimes called Cope's Gopher snake, Mid-American pine snake, Central American pine snake, or Mexican Lined gopher/pine snake)



 Here's one of my adult female Mexican Lined Cincuates from parent stock of Cuerno Vaca, Mexico.

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs


Below is a closeup study of my sub-adult Lined Cincuate Bull snake Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis from Cuerno Vaca Mexican stock.

Digital by Patrick Briggs 





Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis sub-adult viewed from the side and above, Cuerno Vaca Mexico.


 This is my large adult male P. l. lineaticollis over 75 inches in less than 4 years.





 Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis

Below is one of my adult females that recently layed eggs in 2014. She is from parents of Cuerna Vaca Mexico.

Photo by Patrick H. Briggs




 CINCUATE BULL SNAKE pronounced SEEN QUA' TAY (Cope 1861)

 By Patrick Houston Briggs

The "Cincuate" bull snake Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis   is sometimes called the Cope's gopher or bull snake, the Mid-American pine/gopher/bull snake  or even, the Mexican Lined gopher/pine snake probably because it was first described by Cope in 1861 as Arizona lineaticollis and sports paired lines on the neck region. Also,  P. l. lineaticollis and the other race, P. l. gibsoni, are sometimes referred to as the Middle American gopher or bull snakes, because gibsoni is found in the central American region in Guatemala Additionally, in the past, both the two P. deppei races from Mexico have been  lumped into the middle American group with both races of P. lineaticollis by some authorities. Other forms of Pituophis are also occasionally called Cincuate as many of these snake forms look similar to the casual observer. The taxonic epithet "lineaticollis"seems appropriate because the Latin term linea means "line" and collis refers to the collar region, so earlier writers and researchers have set this form apart due partly to the anterior striping of this species and also because these forms possess two, instead of four prefrontal scales behind the snout. This form easily reach lengths over 7 feet and may also be more cold tolorant than other Pituophis.Its habitat includes wet forest, pine forest, and cloud forest of the highlands in Mexico.( article continued)

 Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis

Lateral head study up close.

Patrick Houston Briggs




Photo by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Thomas Moisi (Specimen below from Cuerno Vaca, Mexico stock)





 Miguel Alvarez Del Toro representing the Institute of Natural History of the State of Chiapas in Mexico describes "El Cincuate" in Los Reptiles de Chiapas (3rd Edition) Tuxtla Gutierrez Chiapas Mexico, 1982. In spanish he wrote:

"El Cincuate Pituophis lineaticollis (Fig. 131), es una culebra caracteristica  de las zonas frias. En Chiapas se le ha encontrado en Las Casas, Comitan, Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, etc. Alcanza gran tamano, pero una medida comun es de metro y medio y cuerpo mas bien grueso. El color del fondo es amarillento leonado, en ocasiones algo oscuro; en el cuello y parte anterior del cuerpo tiene un par de rayas longitudinales negras que en el resto del cuerpo se dividen formando manchas apareadas, las que aumentan de tamano en la parte posterior y ostentan un central pardo. La cabeza es cafe palido por arriba y amarillenta por abajo. La region ventral es blanco amarillenta con marcas parduscas en los extremos de los escudos, los que posteriormente ostentan puntos negros en el centro."

"El  cincuate habita en los bosques de pinares y gusta de frecuentar los sembrados, asi como la orilla de las poblaciones. Es una serpiente de las que tan absurdamente se les acusa de mamar a las mujeres u en algunas regiones la senalan como venenosa, pero es completamente inofensiva, ademas de util por las ratas y ratones que destruye."                                                                                                                                       

I translated Miguel's description above into English below.

The Cincuate (Fig. 131), is a snake characteristicly from cool or temperate zones. In Chiapas (Mexico) it has been found in Las Casas, Comitan, Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, etc. It grows to large size, but a common length is about a meter and a half and with a fairly thick body. The ground color is a lion-like yellow, occasionally somewhat darker; on the neck and front part of the body, it has a pair of black longitudinal (lengthwise) stripes that on the rest of the body separate forming paired markings which increase in size toward the posterior and sport a lightened or dark gray center, The head is light brown above and yellowish below. The ventral region is a yellowish-white with suffused (smudged) markings on the scale edges which become black tips in the center-rear of each scale. 

The Cincuate inhabits pine forests and likes to frequent farmland as well as the outskirts of populations. It is a snake that ridiculously is accused of sucking women and in some regions, is considered venomous, but it is completely harmless as well as useful for the rats and mice that it destroys.



The Cincuate bull snake is found on the southern part of the Mexican plateau, from Mexico City south into the state of Chiapas. Some of the photo images on this site are from stock coming from Cuerno Vaca, Mexico. These animals are becoming more and more familiar to Pituophis breeders. Indeed, they are beautiful and interesting snakes. The head is basically unmarked and distinctly longer than other species with an elevated and rounded rostral. The body ground color can be tan, light olive-brown, or yellow-green with white or cream flecking. Each scale may appear darker in the center with cream, tan or white around the edges, giving it a scaley light ground color appearance. Beginning just behind the head on the neck are four continuous stripes, two above and one other on each side. The two dorsal stripes eventually break up toward the mid-body and become twin spots above with light centers as the lateral lines of each side become secondary or intercalary markings. Toward the tail, the dorsal twin markings fuse becoming single saddle-like blotches that may number 23-45. 

Distribution: Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis: Mexico (Michoacán, México, and Morelos, Guerrero, Oaxaca); Type locality: 24 kilometers northwest of Ciudad Oaxaca, Oaxaca [neotype locality].

Holotype: ANSP 3548; Mexico
Neotype, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, UMMZ No. 114668 [lineaticollis]

Diagnosis (lineaticollis): This subspecies is characterized by the presence of continuous dark paravertebral stripes on the anterior part of the body, and light-centered dorsal body-blotches and lateral intercalary spots (Pl. 45, Fig. 2). There are 229 to 258 ventrals, 54 to 72 caudals, and 23 to 45 dorsal body-blotches posterior to the neck-stripes. The young are colored like the adults [DUELLMAN 1960]. 



Below is one of my adult Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis a male at 75 inches and less than 4 years old. (Parent stock from Cuerno Vaca, Mexico.)

Photo by Pat Briggs



Conservation Actions: According to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research action. It occurs in at least eight protected areas, including El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve. Classified as a Least Concern.


Range Description:This species (lineaticollis) is known from southeast Jalisco throughout Sierra Madre del Sur, to Oaxaca, including Morelos, Veracruz, and Michoacan in Mexico, as well as the highlands of Chiapas (but it is not found in the depression), and the gibsoni race) into Guatemala. Elevational range is 800 to 2,500 meters.
Guatemala; Mexico


                            Mid-body Scales        27                                 Supralabials               8-9

                               Ventrals                    236-249                         Infralabials                11-13

                             Caudals                    61-71                             Postoculars              2-3

                           Anal                         entire                             Preoculars                 1

                               Prefrontals                 2


(See Olive G. Stull BULLETIN 175, TABLE 1. Symnopsis of the forms of the genus Pituophis p. 22 U.S.NATL. MSM)

(Also, Check out REPTILES magazine April 2001, Pituophis Parade: The Bull, Gopher & Pine Snakes, p. 48-73 By Patrick Briggs)

Nice Mexican bull snake "Cincuate":

Mexican range map: 



A Cincuate bull snake, Mexican stock from Cuerno Vaca, Mexico below:

Photo by Patrick H. Briggs Courtesy Thomas Moisi




Notice that in the adult male lineaticollis below that only 2 prefrontals make contact with the scale between the eyes known as the frontal.

In most Pituophis except P. lineaticollis and P. deppei subspecies, most individuals have 4 prefrontals that make contact with this scale.

 Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs 




 Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs Courtesy Thomas Moisi

Posted by: ginter at Tue Aug 6 21:55:00 2013  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by ginter ]   [ Follow this user in Connect ]

I must admit that I am spoiled by the ease of posting images some other sites offer and I guess that makes me lazy...

Let me see if I can recycle an image of a huge jani from a few years back. This snake would have been a formidable rabbit eater in the wild. Bad news killer for sure.

Some of my lineaticollis are upwards of 7 feet long, my old female kingsville TX sayi is an easy 7 ft long, My blake pines both topped out just over 6 despite being 20 plus years old, my old los Mimbres deppei male has got to be a bit over 7 ft long if he is an inch, I have an older bimaris that is probably 5 ish which I consider big for that subspecies, all my Duval Co. FL animals are between 5 and 6 ft long, I have an 21 year old northern that would have to be over 7 ft, my santa crus island animals are a whopping 30 inches! I have never been much for measuring the snakes but these estimates are close...

The Mexican Cincuate Bull Snake (A beautiful adult male over 6 feet long below, close up lateral anterior view of neck and head)

Photo by Patrick Houston Briggs 2014


For those more advanced Pituophis enthusiasts only, see the following site address for a great scientific follow up on this genus:

Unknown person or photographer below, the snake is a large Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis
The Mexican Twin-lined Cincuate (Seen Qua' Tay)


Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis

Photo by Patrick Briggs Courtesy Tom Moisi 


Cincuate Bull Snake

Adult Female Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis

Photo by Pat Briggs 2014


Distribution Figure 1 



 William E. Duellman studies:

Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis Cope, new combination

Arizona lineaticollis Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, p. 300, 1861.

Pituophis lineaticollis, Stull, Occas. Papers Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan, no. 250, p. 2, October 12, 1932, Bull. U. S. Natl. Mus., no. 175, p. 47, April 23, 1940.

Pituophis deppei lineaticollis, Smith, Proc. U. S. Natl. Mus., vol. 93, p. 460, 1943; Smith and Taylor, Bull. U. S. Natl. Mus., no. 187, p. 108, 1945.

Pituophis deppei brevilineata Schmidt and Shannon, Fieldiana-Zool., vol. 31, p. 79, February 20, 1947.

Type.—No type specimen is known. Cope (1861: 300 and 1887: 72) stated that the specimen was from the southern Mexican Plateau and that it was collected by Carlos Sartorius. Smith and Taylor (1945: 108 and 1950: 348) gave the type locality as Jalapa, Veracruz. Although this locality was the source of many specimens sent to the United States by Sartorius, it is not within the known range of lineaticollis, and therefore cannot appropriately be thought of as the type locality. In the absence of a type specimen and a justifiable type locality, I hereby designate as a neotype, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, No. 114668. This specimen was collected 24 kilometers northwest of Ciudad Oaxaca, Oaxaca, on February 29, 1956, by William E. Duellman. It is an adult female having 229 ventrals, 67 caudals, and long black neck-stripes followed posteriorly by 23 light-centered dorsal body-blotches.

Diagnosis.—This subspecies is characterized by the presence of continuous dark paravertebral stripes on the anterior part of the body, and light-centered dorsal body-blotches and lateral intercalary spots (Pl. 45, Fig. 2). There are 229 to 258 ventrals, 54 to 72 caudals, and 23 to 45 dorsal body-blotches posterior to the neck-stripes. The young are colored like the adults.

Variation.—Specimens from the southern part of the range in Oaxaca have 229 to 245 ventrals (average 238.3); to the north on the Mexican Plateau in the state of Michoacán seven specimens have 231 to 243 (average 237.1) ventrals. In the relatively isolated mountain ranges of the Sierra del Sur in Guerrero and the Sierra de Coalcomán in southern Michoacán the ranges of variation and average numbers of ventrals are, respectively, 234 to 258 (245.8) and 236 to 246 (242.2). The longest neck-stripes are found in specimens from Oaxaca and Guerrero; nevertheless, some specimens from the Mexican Plateau in Michoacán and three of the four specimens from the Sierra de Coalcomán have neck-stripes equally long. One specimen from 40 kilometers north of Ciudad México and several from the vicinity of Tancítaro, Michoacán, have rather shorter neck-stripes. One specimen from Dos Aguas, Michoacán, has the neck-stripes partially fragmented into rows of spots as in gibsoni.

On the basis of specimens from Tancítaro, Michoacán, Schmidt and Shannon (1947: 79) described the subspecies brevilineata, which they diagnosed as differing from lineaticollis in having fewer ventrals and shorter neck-stripes. The present data suggest that the characters used to diagnose the subspecies are variable not only in Michoacán, but throughout the range of the species. Consequently, Pituophis (deppei) brevilineata Schmidt and Shannon (1947) is placed in the synonymy of Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis Cope (1861).

Distribution.—The southern part of the Mexican Plateau in the states of Michoacán, México, and Morelos, the Sierra de Coalcomán in southern Michoacán, and the Sierra del Sur in Guerrero and Oaxaca.

Specimens examined.—Total of 25, as follows: Guerrero: Acahuizotla, USNM 46537; Chilpancingo, CNHM 38356-9, UIMNH 35000, UMMZ 85724-5; Omiltemi, USNM 46462. México: 40 km. N of Ciudad México, UIMNH 36223. Michoacán: Acuaro de las Lleguas, UMMZ 112565; Dos Aguas, UMMZ 118786, 119567-8; 40 km. E of Morelia, UMMZ 101932; Tancítaro, CNHM 37126, 39069-72. Morelos: 1 km. W of Tepoztlán, UMMZ 101931; Tres Cumbres, UIMNH 35001. Oaxaca: 25 km. N of El Soledad, UIMNH 6210; 24 km. NW of Oaxaca, UMMZ 114668; San Pedro Quiechapa, USNM 110893.







 Click below for another range map from the IUCN red list for this ophidian.










Pituophis lineaticollis lineaticollis 75 inch adult male 2014

digital image by Patrick Briggs 



Snakes currently assigned to Pituophis deppei differ from other members of the genus by possessing two instead of four prefrontal plates. The subspecies of P. deppei have been defined on characters of coloration and scutellation.

Scutellation.—The only scale characters utilized in the present study are the numbers of ventrals and caudals. The number of ventrals varies in the total sample from 210 to 246 (Table 1); usually the variation in one locality is no more than 15. Number of caudals varies from 52 to 72. There is slight sexual dimorphism in the number of ventrals and somewhat greater differences in the number of caudals.

Table 1.—Variation in the Numbers of Ventrals and Caudals in Four Subspecies of Pituophis.

SubspeciesVentrals Caudals
 Range Mean RangeMean
deppei deppei
34 ♂♂210-231220.453-6961.5
16 ♀♀209-232218.252-6157.2
deppei jani
12 ♂♂215-235225.156-6862.6
3 ♀♀228-231229.052-6056.0
lineaticollis lineaticollis
13 ♂♂231-258239.554-7264.9
9 ♀♀229-249241.355-6860.6
lineaticollis gibsoni
2 ♂♂234234.061-6563.0
4 ♀♀241-246243.757-6359.0

Coloration.—The dorsal ground color is tan or straw; the dorsal pattern consists basically of dark middorsal blotches and dark lateral intercalary spots. Number of blotches, color of blotches posteriorly, width of pale interspaces between anterior blotches, and color of lateral intercalary spots vary considerably geographically. In some populations (lineaticollis and gibsoni) the anterior blotches are divided medially forming either a pair of dark stripes on the anterior part of the body or a series of paired spots. Details of coloration are described in the following accounts.




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