Black Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi

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Below: Adult female black Indiana locality bull snake from our breeding program

Black Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi

Our black bull snake bloodline descends from exceptionally dark bulls descending from near the Jasper/Newton County line in Indiana. This is still a young project. We have not selectively bred these snakes for generations, so some variation is still to be expected from our offspring.  Our results thus far have been encouraging and have aroused much excitement in the herpetocultural community. We are working with some of the darkest bull snakes that have ever been bred in captivity. We expect that over time we should be able to produce even darker specimens than we have now.

Below: A dark adult male from our colony

Black Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi

This is part of the easternmost occurring bull snake population. The wild bull snakes in this area are variable. They can run the gamut from the tricolor "Kankakee bull" look to snakes as dark as the ones pictured here. We selected exceptionally dark examples as the founding stock for our colony. At Sunshine Serpents, we like to know the localities of our snakes and breed them as pure locality animals when possible. In the case of this project, the snakes occur literally on a county line and freely cross the border between two counties, so naming a county locality based on a manmade political boundary would be inappropriate.

Below: A black bull snake with an interesting light head that contrasts with the coloration of the body

Black Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi

Juveniles of this project have been somewhat similar to the adults, though more cleanly marked. They do seem to darken a bit with age. As with other baby Pituophis, they are very hardy and ready to tackle fairly large meals from the start.

Below: A typical hatchling from this bloodline

Black Bull Snake Pituophis catenifer sayi Juvenile

 

 

In the Wild

Below: Sand prairie in Newton County, Indiana (Photo by Nick Mesa)

Sand Prairie Newton County, Indiana

Bull snakes occur in Northwestern Indiana  on a finger of sand prairie habitat that also juts through parts of Northern Illinois. Biologists sometimes call this the "prairie peninsula." The habitat here is distinctive from the nearby black muck prairie or forest habitats. Much of the natural habitat of this region has been converted to agricultural lands. Luckily, bull snake are fairly adaptable snakes and still persists despite major modifications to their habitat.

Below: Pocket gopher mounds in grassy area near corn field in Newton County, Indiana (Photo by Nick Mesa)

Farmland Newton County, Indiana 

Like several  populations of the pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucas) in the southern United States, the bull snakes here prey heavily on pocket gophers (Geomys). The sand prairie habitats here are similar to southern sandhill habitats in many respects, and the presence of the sand loving gophers is one of them. In addition to eating pocket gophers, bull snakes also use their burrows as shelter. In the spring and fall, bull snakes can sometimes be found basking near the sand mounds that cover freshly excavated burrows.

Below: Barn in agricultural area (Photo by Nick Mesa)

Barn Jasper County, Indiana

The most commonly employed method for finding bull snakes in this area is probably flipping cover objects. Fallen boards, tin, and other trash can sometimes be found near abandoned barns and farm houses.  This method is most effective in the spring. During periods of increased activity like spring and fall migrations, bull snakes can sometimes be seen crossing roads during the day.

Below: A black bull snake found near the Newton/Jasper County line in Indiana

 

 

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