Order:  Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder:  Serpentes (snakes)
Family:  Colubridae ("typical" snakes)
Subfamily:  Colubrinae ("typical" snakes)
Genus:  Pituophis (gopher, bull, and pine snakes)

Scientific Name:  Pituophis catenifer sayi (Schlegel, 1837)

Habitat:  Fields, prairies, open woodlands and other areas with sufficient ground cover.

Pitys="pine," ophis="snake," catena="chain," ifera="bearing," sayi after explorer/naturalist Thomas Say

Length:  can grow to more than 8 feet long. Old Scientific Name(s):  Pituophis melanoleucus sayi
Food:  Rodents and rabbits. Bull/Gopher Snake Range
I found this HUGE brute in April 2004 about an hour south of San Antonio, near a pile of debris around an abandoned building.  Initially, all that was visible was the last foot or so of its tail.  I knew it was a big snake, so I ran back to my car to get my hook and tongs (and camera!).  Upon my return, the snake was making a hasty retreat into a pile of old lumber, hissing VERY loudly (as bullsnakes are known to do).  

After about a 10-minute fight with the snake, I managed to wrangle it free to get a few pictures.  I had to hold on to the snake with one hand, and operate my camera with the other (hence the odd angle for the picture; I'm looking down at the snake from eye level).

Here is a close-up of its head, AFTER it had calmed down somewhat!  It had made a couple of strikes at me, hissing the whole time.  Bullsnakes' heads are disproportionately large and strong (compared to similar species, and is how the snakes got their common name) in order to burrow effectively in a variety of terrain to get at their prey.

After a few more pics (including the one on my main Field Herping page), I released the snake.  Analyzing that photograph with specialized software, I determined this specimen measured AT LEAST 6 feet, 5 inches long--big, even for a bullsnake, and by far the longest snake I've ever captured!

See also the San Diego Gopher Snake I found.


NOTE:  the range map shows the distribution of all subspecies of Pituophis catenifer, including the bullsnake.  There are roughly 6 subspecies of P. catenifer; the taxonomy tends to change every few years as more is learned about these snakes.