Bull Snake: Key Facts

Have you ever wondered why people sometimes confuse bull snakes with rattlesnakes? Or maybe you’re simply curious about how large bull snakes can grow, where they live, and how they kill and eat their prey. Keep reading! In this article, we’ll discuss these and other bull snake key facts.

Quick Facts About Bull Snakes

Scientific Name:Pituophis Catenifer Sayi
Type of Animal:Reptile; constrictor
Physical Description:Large patterned constrictors with alternating light and dark splotches and dark bands on the tail. Usually yellow to beige and brown to black in color. These snakes typically have pale bellies, dark, round eyes, and pointed snouts used for digging burrows.
Distribution:Found throughout the Central and Southern United States as well as parts of extreme southern Canada and extreme northern Mexico.
Habitat:Can live in a variety of habitats but found mostly in deserts, conifer forests, and grasslands.
Average Size:– 4 to 6 feet long; may grow up to 8 feet long.
– 2 to 4 pounds; may grow up to 10 pounds.
Average Lifespan:12 to 16 years in the wild; up to 22 years in captivity.
Diet:Opportunistic carnivore; food groups include:
– Small mammals
– Birds
– Small reptiles
– Amphibians
– Eggs
Average Number of Eggs:3 to 24

What Are Bull Snakes?

Bull snakes are nonvenomous constrictors (subspecies of gopher snakes) often mistaken for rattlesnakes. This is because they have similar colors and patterns to rattlesnakes, and they often hiss, coil their bodies, and shake their tails when threatened.

Bull snakes live throughout the central and midwestern parts of the United States, reaching into southern Canada and northern Mexico. They eat a number of small animals, from rats to birds to frogs, and they kill their prey by wrapping their bodies around it and suffocating it.

Bull snakes lay anywhere from a few to two dozen eggs each year. They lay their eggs in nests in the ground, covering them with dirt and then leaving them to self-incubate.

Bull snakes can be aggressive if they feel threatened, but according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, they often calm down quickly and will allow humans to handle them. For this reason, they are sometimes kept as pets.

Check out this video to learn more about bull snakes:

What is the Habitat of a Bull Snake?

Bull snakes are known for being prairie snakes, as they often live in open grasslands and pastures. They can also be found in other habitats though, including desert scrublands, savanas, rocky outcroppings, high bluffs, and even conifer forests. 

How Harmful Are Bull Snakes?

Despite that they are often mistaken for rattlesnakes, bull snakes are nonvenomous. They kill their prey by constricting it with their muscular bodies.

That said, bull snakes will bite humans if they feel threatened, and the bite can be pretty painful. Their mouths are filled with bacteria that may cause infections if they bite you.

Other than this slight risk of infection, bull snakes are relatively harmless compared with some other snakes.


Bull snakes are large nonvenomous constrictors native to the central and midwestern regions of the United States, extending west to the Rockies. These snakes can be found in a wide variety of habitats and are generally harmless to humans.

Read also about other forest reptiles – here are our guides about chameleons, copperheads, iguanas.

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