We have had ten different species of snakes on our property over the years. However, I don't want to give the impression that there are dangerous snakes everywhere you step. We only see two or three rattlesnakes a year; and, maybe 10 snakes altogether. Yesterday, I talked about the Black Racer. Today, Bullsnakes.
The first snake I came across on our property was actually during one of the visits leading up to our purchase. It was the largest snake I had ever seen -- outside a zoo. It looked to be about 8 feet long with a diameter of three inches or so. That's a big snake in the US. And, it was a Bullsnake. In the ten years since, we see one a couple times a year. We saw Big Bull a couples of times for the first three years, then found him dead the third year. Probably just old age. But, not being a forensic scientist or pathologist, what do I know?
Bullsnakes are sometimes mistaken for rattlesnakes and thus killed. (I must admit that I am not in favor of killing snakes -- even Rattlesnakes). Due to its coloration, dorsal pattern, and semi-keeled scalation; the Bullsnake superficially resembles the Western Diamondback Rattler which is also common here. The Bullsnake capitalizes on this similarity by performing a very impressive rattlesnake impression when threatened. First, it hisses, or forcibly exhales through a bisected glottis, which flaps back and forth producing a very convincing "rattle" sound. It will also take on a rattlesnake-like "S-curve" body posture, as if it is going to strike. The Bullsnake will commonly vibrate its tail rapidly amongst the brush or leaves, and flatten its head to make it take on a more characteristic triangular-shaped head of the rattlesnake. These defensive behaviors are meant to scare away threats, however, not sound an attack.
Snakes are a challenge to photograph due to their length. How do you get close enough to get detail in perfect focus for something 4 to 6 feet long. The quick witted answer is "very carefully" but the real answer is" not often possible." The best photos are usually with coiled snakes or snakes that are closely serpentined. I kept asking Big Bull to cooperate but, he was a stubborn old guy that just wasn't very interested in me getting a good photo. As you see below, I have a close-up of the head, a close-up of the body detail, and then a full length (or almost full length) photo.