bull snake

(Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Conservation Status
bull snake
Photo by Christa Rittberg
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable


Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need


Bull snake is a large, nonvenomous, typical snake. It is the largest snake found in Minnesota.

The tail is yellow with dark rings. The head is yellow with irregular dark markings.




37 to 72


Similar Species


Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) has a black tail with a tan segmented rattle.

Western fox snake (Mintonius ramspotti) head is reddish-brown and is mostly unmarked.


Sandy prairies, bluff prairies, fields, pastures, savannas, and open woodlands. Sandy soil.




Bull snake is a rattlesnake mimic. When disturbed it will rapidly shake its tail against vegetation or an object to produce a rattle-like sound. It is not poisonous but will strike and deliver a painful bite if cornered.




10 to 25 years


Life Cycle






Mostly small mammals, but also birds, bird eggs, frogs, and lizards.


Distribution Map



6, 7, 11, 14, 24, 29, 72, 74.




Widespread; common in parts of its range; possibly declining in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa due to habitat loss.

  Class Reptilia (reptiles)  
  Superorder Lepidosauria  
  Order Squamata (snakes and lizards)  
  Suborder Serpentes (snakes)  
  Infraorder Alethinophidia  
  Superfamily Colubroidea  


Colubridae (colubrid snakes)  




Pituophis (pine, gopher, and bullsnakes)  
  Species gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer)  

This species was formerly classified as Pituophis melanoleucus. In 1995 the Louisiana pine snake was recognized as a subspecies, P. m. ruthveni. Mitrocondrial DNA analysis in 2000 showed that the species should be split into four distinct species; pine snake (P. melanoleucus), gopher snakes and bullsnake (P. catenifer); Louisiana pine snake (P. ruthveni), and cape gopher snake (P. vertebralis).

There are eleven subspecies of Pituophis catenifer currently recognized. Only one, bull snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi), occurs in Minnesota.




Coluber catenifer

Elaphis reticulatus

Pituophis catenifer

Pituophis heermanni

Pituophis melanoleucus sayi

Pituophis wilkesii

Pityophis hæmatois


Common Names


bull snake









Visitor Photos

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Nancy Falkum


Yesterday, May 21, 2022 at KWD South Unit, if you look closely you will find the Bull snake. First one I have seen in a couple of years at the dunes.

  bull snake  
    bull snake   bull snake  
    bull snake      

Christa Rittberg


Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

    bull snake      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos





Pituophis catenifer sayi
Jake Scott
  Pituophis catenifer sayi  


Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake)
  Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake)  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)

Uploaded on Feb 7, 2011

* Family: Colubridae,
* Subfamily: Colubrinae,
* Genus: Pituophis,
* Species: P. catenifer,
* Subspecies: P. c. sayi,
* Phylum: Chordata,
* Class: Reptilia,
* Order: Squamata,
* Suborder: Serpentes,
* Type: Reptile,
* Diet: Carnivore,
* Size: Exceed 8 feet (2.4 m) in length,
* Weight: no data,
* Avarege lifespan in the wilds: Estimated at 10 years,
** Pituophis catenifer sayi, is a large non-venomous colubrid snake,It is a subspecies of the Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer).

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullsnake

  Bullsnake Field Observations - Bull Snake
Reptile and Amphibian Video

Uploaded on Oct 25, 2007

A pair of bullsnakes, aka bull snakes in an Iowa sand prairie.

Orry Martin

Uploaded on Mar 29, 2010

My name is Orry Martin: The Texas Snake Hunter. This is the Bullsnake which is a close relative to the Sonoran Gopher snake of Texas. These snakes are famous for their ability to exhale air past a flap in their throats to produce a loud hissing/rattle sound. All of the snakes in this film were released unharmed and were captured strictly for educational purposes and photography. All pictures were taken by me on my Nikon D200.

  Colorado Bullsnake (Gopher Snake) in the Wild
Matt Abraxas

Published on May 6, 2013

The Colorado Bull Snake, or Gopher Snake, (Pituophis catenifer sayi) is one of the largest snakes indigenous to Northern America. In this short documentary clip, self-proclaimed British Naturalist, Matt Abraxas, reveals the secret life of a male Colorado Bullsnake while it searches for an ellusive mate.

  Backroad Reptiles Episode 4: Mess with the Bull, You Get the Horns

Published on Sep 24, 2013

Aaron comes across a large, angry bull snake (pituophis catenifer sayi) crossing a busy backroad. Enjoy the video and follow us on instagram at backroadreptiles!




Visitor Sightings

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  Nancy Falkum

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit



bull snake

  Christa Rittberg

Location: Chisago County, MN

Photo taken in Wild River State Park.

bull snake  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




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