last changes: Sunday, January 06, 2008

Keeping and Breeding of the Bull Snake

      Pituophis catenifer sayi

orange sayi female, 2 years old, German CB

light sayi male, maybe an Illinois-variant

Keeping & Behavior

The bull snakes become not in all cases calm. Captive bred animals often get hand tame in ranging. The other snakes and most of the wild caught animals stay a little agressiv an bite sometimes. Adult bull snakes reach sometimes 2m and need a greater terrarium with some stable hiding places and, if possible, a klimbing branch.

For a seldom visited bathbowl I use often an open plastic box 30 x 17 cm with aprox. 3 l water in there. The preferd temperatures of the bull snake is aprox. 25-27°C.

The P. c. sayi has a great appetite.


The snakes take a lot of sorts of rodents and birds. It's normaly the same, wether the food is alive, fresh dead or thawned frost food. Some of my adult bull snakes don't eat mice, only rats and chicks.

Wildcaught bull snakes sometimes are problem feeder, but with some hiding places and life mice/rats in the beginning they start feeding mostly.


You should offer them a 2-4month long hibernation periode at 5-15°C.

It will help for the fathewring ability, but often there had been matings with fertil eggs without a hibernation.

Reproduction and Breeding

After the hibernation the snakes eat some times and they get in mating mood. After the succsessful mating the eggs grow for 6-8 weeks in the body of the female. Some days after the pre egg laying shed it lay a cluch of 4-25 eggs (literatur). Most of my sayi-clutches range from 4-13 eggs. The greater females laid the greater clutches normaly.

After a medium incubation period of about 63-67 days the snakes begin to hatch.

Young Snakes

After hatching the small bulls have a lenght of 35 to 50 cm. The coloration is similar tho the parents, but the ground color is mostly a little lighter and the saddles are darker than in adults. Depending on the lenght of hatch the first food of my snakes might be defrosted some days old mice or nestyoung rats. Non feeders are the absolute exeption.

The further keeping is without problems, when you keep the animal stress poor. If there is a lot of food offered the growth rates are enormous. After a ½ to 1year the animals reach 1m. This quick growth normaly has no greater influence to the health and those animals will have, too, a long life and and healthy babys.

Maturity and Lifespan

Depending on amount of food and the biological possibilitis of the animals the maturity begins in the 2nd or 3rd year.

In normal cases the snakes become aprox. 15 years ore a little more.

My Snakes

At this time I have about 40 sayi's in my terraria. Adult pairs I have from red bulls, Northern's, from Texas animals, amel., snow, hypo...

Furthermore there are some other local and colour forms in rearing.

I think this was it at the moment ;-)

Most of my breeding groups reproduce regulary.


Biology in Habitat

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