The Wild Side
by Jim Bade
Bull snakes (Pitouphis melanoleucus) are a type of gopher snake. They average five feet in length as adults. They are yellow brown to cream in color and have black and brown markings. They look somewhat like a prairie rattlesnake and are often mistaken as such.
Bull snakes mate in spring and the females lay 3-20 cream colored eggs in a burrow. Incubation is 64-80 days. The babies, when hatched, are one to one and a half feet long.
Bull snakes are active hunters and use their tongue to smell. Teeth are present and they will bite. They are nonvenomous, but infection can occur at the bite. The bull snake kills its prey by constriction. They literally squeeze their prey to death. Their main prey includes mice, rabbits, gophers, ground squirrels, birds, and bird eggs. It is not clear whether bull snakes eat rattlesnakes, but they are not found together. Bull snakes are active hunters while rattlesnakes are passive hunters, so the bull snake eats most of the prey in a given area. There are some reports that rattlesnakes have been found inside of some bull snakes. Bull snakes are prey for hawks and eagles.
Bull snakes can be found in sandy areas, prairies, fields, open forests, and agricultural fields from Southern Canada to Texas .
Get out there and explore your world. You will find something fascinating!
Bade is a teacher in the Felt School system and will be a frequent contributor to The Boise city News
Boise City News