Baby Bull Snake: Everything You Should Know

Bull snakes are closely related to gopher and pink snakes, and they are magnificent snake species. They are large, powerful constrictors that can easily subdue several prey items simultaneously. However, they have a docile temperament, and they are beautifully patterned.

Bull snakes are a perfect snake species that you can keep as a pet due to their easy-care level. However, they are more suitable for an experienced owner because they can be aggressive at times. They will make a good pet once they get used to handling but can bite when stressed.

In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about baby bull snakes, from the appearance of a baby bull snake to how you can care for them.

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Cute Reptiles as Pets

What Does A Baby Bull Snake Look Like? 

Baby bull snakes are considered miniature bull snakes and are of the same color as adult bull snakes. They are available in a variety of colors, mostly creamy or yellowish-brown. They also have a yellow head which is filled with several dark markings.

However, baby bull snake’s overall color pattern is usually lighter than adult bull snakes. Baby bull snakes also have an enlarged rostral (nose) scale that gives their head a pointy appearance and helps in digging.

Baby Bull Snake
A bull snake

How Do You Know If A Snake In Your backyard is a bull snake?

After you have seen several signs like snakeskin, snake tracks, droppings, etc., that indicate that a snake is in your backyard. You may then get lucky and spot the animal slithering around in your backyard. 

The next thing is for you to determine the type of species the snake is and whether it is venomous or not. You can use several ways to determine whether the snake in your backyard is a bull snake; some are listed below.

Check Their Tail

Although bull snakes look similar to rattlesnakes, they have lots of features that keep them apart. For instance, bull snakes lack rattles, and they have their tails tapered off into a point. However, when threatened, bull snakes can exhibit the same behavior as rattlesnakes.

They usually make a rattling sound using their mouth or by moving dry leaves around with their tail.

Check Their Head

Unlike rattlesnakes with large and triangular heads, bull snakes have narrow heads with relatively thick necks. However, bull snakes usually flatten their head to look like a rattlesnake when threatened. 

Furthermore, bull snakes have round pupils, and they do not have heat-sensing pits.

The head of a bull snake
The head of a bull snake

Behavior

Baby bull snakes are usually more active during the day, and you will find them constantly foraging for food. Furthermore, they are constrictors and actively search for prey, and you will find them slithering around your backyard looking for what to eat.

However, rattlesnakes usually wait for their prey and are more active during the night. If you find a snake sunning itself on a log in your backyard, then it may be a bull snake.

Can You Keep A Bull Snake As Pets?

Bull snakes are one of the best reptiles that you can keep as a pet. This is because they don’t need any specialized conditions to keep them healthy and happy. Furthermore, they can do well in a cage with a wide range of temperatures.

However, bull snakes are not suitable pets for beginner hobbyists because babies and juvenile bull snakes are hyperactive.

a man holding a baby bull snake
Bull snakes are one of the snake species that make a great pet.

How Do You Take Care Of A Baby Bull Snake As A Pet

Although the name bull snakes can sound aggressive, these snakes are usually harmless and will make a mind-blowing pet. Furthermore, they have a relatively easy-care level.

Provide A Clean Cage With Sufficient Floor Space

Bull snakes are widely distributed snake species, which means they will do well in a wide range of habitats. However, they prefer a dry and sandy habitat where they can easily hunt for rodents to eat.

Housing

Generally, it is recommended that you house a bull snake in an enclosure where the length plus the width is equivalent to the overall snake’s length. This is to help ensure that your snake can properly stretch out.

You can house baby bull snakes in around 12 inches long tubs or faunarium, while you will need around 36 inches long tubs or vivarium for your adult bull snakes. However, the height of the enclosure is not that important because bull snakes don’t usually climb.

Some cages that you can keep bull snakes are glass terrariums, an aquarium with mesh lids, plastic shoe boxes, and a wooden snake vivarium.

Substrate

Bull snakes love having a good burrow and root in their enclosure. This means you will need to provide them with 2-3 inches of substrate. You can use substrates like cypress mulch, lignocel, and aspen for your bull snake enclosure.

However, you should avoid using substrates like cedar and pine as they are quite toxic to snakes.

Lighting

Although bull snakes are diurnal creatures, they usually do perfectly fine without UV lighting. Furthermore, they can synthesize their own vitamin D without the help of a UVB light. However, because they don’t need UV light does not mean they do not need any light.

You will need to provide adequate light to help keep their body clock on track and maintain normal activity cycles. You can provide light for them using UV or non-UV tube lighting and should be on for about 12 hours per day.

Cleaning

Bull snakes are considered to be messy and smelly reptiles. This is why you must remove any excrement and spot clean their enclosure every day. Furthermore, you will need to do a full cleaning of their habitat monthly or even earlier if you notice that the odor remains after a daily spot cleaning.

Provide A Temperature Range Or Heating Devices

Bull snakes are cold-blooded animals and require heat to keep them happy and healthy. You will need to provide a daytime temperature of about 87oF on the warm side and 75oF on the cool side of their enclosure.

Furthermore, the night temperature should then drop to about 80oF on the warm side and 70F on the cool side of the enclosure.

Heating Devices

You can achieve the heat requirement of your bull snakes using a heat lamp, heating pad, ceramic heat emitter, and incandescent bulbs. However, you need to ensure that bulbs and heat emitters are not close to where your snake can come in contact with it as it can severely burn them.

You will also need a thermostat for controlling the temperature and a thermometer to check the accuracy.

Provide Water And Hiding Areas

Hiding Areas

Most snakes usually spend their time hiding in the wild unless they are hunting or basking in the sun. They usually hide under anything such as logs, rocks, leaves, etc., that can protect them from predators. 

This is why you will need to provide a hiding area for your bull snakes to make them feel secure. Furthermore, bull snakes can hide on both the warm and cool sides of their enclosure, and you can place heavy hides such as Exo Terra caves in their enclosure.

Bull snake curled around a branch in its cage
Bull snake curled around a branch in its cage

Water

You will also need to provide your bull snakes with water. When choosing a water bowl, you should opt for one that is sturdy and heavy, or your snake will flip it over. 

Furthermore, you should place the bowl away from the heat source to avoid evaporation and excessive humidity in the cage. You will also need to replace the water regularly.

Feed and Provide Food

What Do Baby Bull Snakes Eat

Bull snakes are large nonvenomous constrictors that can eat a wide range of small mammals. Although baby bull snakes will eat the same food as adult snakes, they will not eat anything larger than them. 

This is because bigger prey can attack them, or they will choke when swallowing them. Baby bull snakes usually survive on smaller rodents such as small lizards, frogs, baby mice, etc.

Feeding Mechanism

Baby bull snakes are active eaters and usually get very hungry. They usually urge to hunt down prey and climb small trees just to invade birds’ nests and feed on their eggs. Furthermore, whenever they are hungry, they will go for the fastest prey nearby.

Baby bull snakes will then grab their prey, and it will take them about 4 seconds to catch their prey with their teeth while they will coil around them tightly. Bull snakes can also push smaller prey against the rock or whatever is around them.

Bull snakes coil around their prey to stop the flow of blood from getting to their victim’s brain, which then kills it. After the prey is dead, they will then open their mouth to swallow their prey whole.

like boa constrictors, bull snakes capture their prey by constriction
like boa constrictors, bull snakes capture their prey by constriction

Note: there are times when the prey can defend itself by biting, making the bull snake retreat.

Treatment of Common Illnesses and Disorders

Several health issues can affect your baby bull snakes. Some are blister disease, mouth rot, pneumonia, respiratory issues, improper shedding, scale rot, parasites such as ticks, tapeworms, mites, roundworms, etc.

Some of the signs of illness in bull snakes that you should be on the lookout for are:

  • Stargazing
  • Mouth breathing and ragged breaths
  • Discharge from the eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Shedding problems
  • Lesions, lumps, scabs, or swelling on the scale
  • Loss of weight
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite

Once you notice that your bull snake is sick, the first thing to do is take it to an exotic vet. The vet can then carry out tests to help determine the disease. Disease like mouth rots with injectable antibiotics and rinsing the mouth with antibiotic solutions.

You can treat parasitic infections using deworming medications administered to the snake through injection or orally. Furthermore, you can manage skin problems by proper hygiene and environment. 

However, you will need to use oral and injectable antibiotics if the illness is advanced. Most respiratory infections can be treated with antibiotics. You will also need to make sure that the humidity in your snake’s enclosure is at an optimal level. 

However, severely ill snakes may require fluid therapy and force-feed in the hospital. 

Pay Attention To The Shedding Process

Shedding is crucial to your snake’s growth and health. Snakes usually shed more when they are young, and this reduces when they reach adulthood. 

However, it is best to know when your snake is about to shed to help make their shedding easier and know you should leave your snake alone for a while. You can keep an eye on this shedding process in your bull snake.

Initial Phase

You will first notice that your snake’s skin starts to turn dull when it is about to shed. However, the change may not be very noticeable, and it is best to keep an eye out for this before you can detect it.

Blue Phase

When you notice that your snake’s eyes change to milky blue color, then it is ready to shed. During this period, your snake can become more aggressive and frustrated because its vision is cloudy, and it cannot see very well.

You should avoid handling your snake during this phase as it is going to aggravate his condition. You will also notice that the snake’s skin becomes dull during this phase.

Final Phase

After about 2-4 days in the blue phase, your snake’s skin and eyes will start to return to normal. This is the stage when your snake is now ready to lose its skin. You will then notice as your snake rubs its body against the glass, accessories, water dish to help initiate the shedding.

The old skin will then come off to show the new skin.

Incomplete Sheds

An incomplete shed in the snake can occur if the humidity level in your snake’s enclosure is too low. However, it can also indicate other problems, and you should try to take your snake to a vet to help determine the cause of the problem.

Handling/Training

Several situations require that you handle your bull snakes. Baby bull snakes are usually hyperactive and easily threatened; they may try to strike when you approach them. Although bull snake bites are harmless, they can lead to bleeding.

This is why you need to be extra careful when handling them. When you plan to handle your snake, it is best to approach it slowly, especially if it is a new snake and it is not used to you.

Steps To Handling A Bull Snake

  • Avoid grasping the snake by its neck.
  • Slide a hand under it away from the head
  • Slide the other hand from the tail tip
  • Hold the snake loosely and lift it slowly

Note: avoid handling your bull snake for a few days after eating a large meal, as it can regurgitate the food. You should also wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling a snake or working on their terrarium to avoid contracting salmonella.

What Do You Do If Your Baby Snake Won’t Eat?

Naturally, bull snakes can lose their appetite as a part of their life cycle from time to time. Your snake is perfectly fine when this occurs, and you don’t have to take any action. 

However, you will need to keep a close eye on your bull snakes to help you determine that it is not a sign of illness. Some of the common things that can make your snake not eat are stated below.

  • Stress
  • Shedding
  • Seasonal changes
  • Hibernation attempts
  • Change in temperature and humidity in their enclosure

How To Encourage Your Bull Snakes To Eat

There are lots of tips and tricks that you can use to encourage your snake to eat, and they are listed below.

  • Warm the feeder before offering it
  • Cut open the feeder to show the scent of blood
  • Scent your bull snake by wiping it with a different prey
  • Put hiding and sheltered areas where your snake can eat privately
  • Move the prey up and down and around your snake’s enclosure to mimic live prey.
How to get your bull snake to eat [source: Snake Discovery]

How Long Does It Take For A Baby Bull Snake To Grow?

Baby bull snakes usually measure about 12-18 inches long when hatched, and they grow rapidly. They normally have rapid growth in the first three years of their life, and the growth rate then slows down afterward.

What You Need To Know About Pet Bull Snakes

Before you decide to get a pet snake, whether it is a bull snake or other species, there are some things that you need to consider. This is because snakes are not suitable pets for everyone as they require special attention and care.

Here are some of the things that you need to know about pet bull snakes.

Why Are They Called Bull Snakes

They are called bull snakes because of the snorting sounds when threatened, which resembles that of a bull.

Bull Snakes Size And Appearance

Bull snakes are among the largest snake species in the United States. They are very muscular and are usually intimidating to both humans and other snakes due to their large size. Baby bull snakes grow rapidly and can be 12-18 inches long.

However, the average length of adult bull snakes is between 4-6 feet. Bull snakes usually have a yellow or yellowish-brown color with darker saddlers covering their body’s upper part. They also have a pattern near their head that is usually denser and dark and turns into dark bands towards the tail.

Benefits Of Bull Snakes

Here are some benefits of keeping bull snakes

  • They are nonvenomous snakes
  • They are not harmful, and it is fun to have them around.
  • They can be used to correct rodent infestation.
  • They save farmers money when it comes to rodent control

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are bull snakes friendly?

Bull snakes are not that friendly as they can bite their owners when threatened. However, they will make a good pet once they get used to handling it.

Is Bull Snake Care Difficult?

Caring for bull snakes is quite easy, and you will not have any problem with them if you can provide them with their basic needs. However, bull snakes tend to bite their owner, but their bite is non-venomous, and you don’t have to panic when this happens.

Wrapping up

Bull snakes are considered to be among the easiest snakes that you can keep as a pet. They are loved by breeders and owners but are not suitable for beginner hobbyists due to their size. Baby bull snakes are usually hyperactive and need frequent feeding as they grow rapidly.

We hope this article provides all the information you need to know about raising a baby bull snake.