Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Lakeside Bullsnake

I have been told by more than one person that they do not kill bullsnakes because bullsnakes kill rattlesnakes.  This rattlesnake killing seems largely a myth.  Bullsnakes and rattlesnakes have always coexisted in the same semiarid to arid landscapes.  They are even known to den together.
Just the same, killing bullsnakes in wholly unnecessary.  Bullsnakes pose no immediate threat to humans.  They even provide a public service by keeping the rodent population in check.
Bullsnakes tend to seek warm-blooded prey such as mice, ground squirrels, and ground-nesting birds.  They are primarily opportunists.  Rattlesnakes, on the other hand, are predatory in their behavior.  Rattlesnakes even go so far as switching to nocturnal hunting by the beginning of summer.  Where rattlesnakes rely on venom to disable their prey, bullsnakes are constrictors.
Bullsnakes are fairly large, averaging between four and five feet in length.  Bullsnakes exceeding eight feet in length have been captured.  They are known for being slightly bad-tempered when approached.  Though their first instinct is to remain still or flee animals larger than themselves, bullsnakes will stand their ground if pressed.  They my rise up—hissing—to make themselves seem larger.  This also makes them sound like a rattler.  And that is not their only similarity to rattlesnakes.  They have very analogous skin markings.  Some bullsnakes will even vibrate their tails—though they have no rattles.
If harassed enough, a bullsnake will bite you.  The bite might even hurt a little.  But bullsnakes are not venomous.  Mostly, they want to be left alone.
Yesterday, Keven found a five-foot bullsnake sunning along the shore at the lake.  He called me over to have a look.  The snake mostly tried to ignore me as I approached with my smarter-than-me-phone.  After allowing me to capture a couple of photographs, the snake slowly slithered off along the lakeshore, not looking for further trouble.

--Mitchell Hegman


  1. I've been learning to co-exist with not commonly understood fellow inhabitants of our ship. It is bad enough that humans kill one another unnecessarily. We have learned that we should not extend that violent tendency in nature or more species will become endangered if not extinct.

  2. I agree, Ariel Murphy. I am happy to live alongside most everything.