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MLA Full: "Meet and Greet: Bullsnake!" YouTube, uploaded by Animal Wonders Montana, 13 February 2020,
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Meet our newest snake who happens to be a beautiful and active bullsnake! She doesn't have a name yet so leave a comment with your suggestion and we'll let our Patreon patrons determine the winner with their votes!

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Welcome to Animal Wonders.  We're currently in our reptile room which houses mostly reptiles but also a few amphibians and invertebrates.  We love all kinds of animals.  It doesn't matter if they have fur, feathers, scales, or any other body covering.  What we care about the most is offering a safe home to those that have been displaced and then sharing each one of them with others so everyone can appreciate how interesting and special they are.

Today's video is all about new little friend here.  She's active, she's feisty, and she's freshly shed so she's just stunning right now.  Let's get to know this young bullsnake.


Bullsnakes are a sub-species of gopher snake.  They are one of the largest snake species in North America, reaching lengths of up to 8ft.  I'd like to start by getting her out onto my hand so you can get a good look at her.  Bullsnakes tend to have a big defensive attitude when approached by something bigger than themselves.  It serves them well to look and sound big and scary because most animals, including humans, don't want to mess with a snake that looks and sounds like it's going to bite you.  They also look very similar to a rattlesnake, so it's twice as scary being too close to them in the wild.

When they get nervous, bullsnakes react by lifting their head and neck up and folding into an 'S' shape back over the rest of their body.  They also give a very vocal hiss.  They make this impressive hiss by blowing air out of their glottis, which is the air tube at the back of their throat.  

When they get really upset, they'll take deep breaths and open their mouth to make it as loud as possible.  They'll also flatten their head a bit, which makes them look even more similar to a viper with that triangular shaped head, and they also vibrate their tail similar to a rattlesnake, but instead of holding it up like a rattlesnake would do, bullsnakes hold their tail to the ground, which makes the vibration audible.  It's even louder and sounds similar to a rattlesnake if their tail vibrates against dry brush or leaves, so she's telling me she's a little nervous about me being so close, which I absolutely respect.  However, the best way to show her that I'm not going to harm her is by gently picking her up.

This changes her perspective of me so I'm no longer a predator facing off with her.  Instead, I'm more of an object to climb on, but I don't want her to practice fully striking at me, so I'm going to block her with my trusty spatula.  I've used this method for over a decade and it's worked very well for me.  It basically puts a barrier between me and them so it keeps me safe and I've never had a snake strike at the spatula.  I think the shape looks so different than any potential prey item or potential threat that they don't associate it with something they'd strike.  Once I block her head, I'm going to gently get my fingers underneath her body and slowly roll her body onto my hand.  

Now, I've been handling her a lot since she came to us a couple weeks ago but you can see she's still quite nervous about the whole situation, so instead of moving her from hand to hand or touching her body with my free hand, I'm just going to be very still and let her experience how non-threatening I am.

So the reason this beauty ended up at Animal Wonders is because a friend of ours that does his own bit of reptile rescuing had her surrendered to him.  Her history is that someone had her in Northern California that moved to Montana and decided they no longer wanted her.  We don't know where she came from originally, so I don't know if she was bought from a pet store or wild caught.  She's reported to have been with her original owner for four years and that's the part that worries me.  She's quite small for being over four years old.  At this size, she seems more like a two year old.

She came in slightly dehydrated and a bit skinny, so we're just working on getting her body condition on point.  I'm really excited about welcoming her to Animal Wonders because I just really like educating about bullsnakes and how beneficial they are to their ecosystems.  These rattlesnake copycats are big consumers of a wide variety of rodents, so they keep those populations in check.  

They also occupy the same niche as rattlesnakes so if a bullsnake has taken up residency in your yard, then a rattlesnake isn't going to find that area appealing to settle down in and they'll likely move on and away from your yard, so if you live in rattlesnake country and have a bullsnake as a close neighbor, instead of harming or chasing them away, you should be grateful for their company.

Bullsnakes are native to our area, so being able to teach these lessons of tolerance and gratitude to our local community is a great way to have a meaningful impact on our local wildlife and environment and another reason I'm just really happy to be able to take this beauty in is because we used to have a big gorgeous gopher snake named Slither who was just the best snake I've had the pleasure of knowing.  Slither passed away a few years ago at almost 20 years old and I just miss her a lot, so this little gal is a welcome new member of the ambassador team and she has some big shoes to fill.  

Since arriving a couple weeks ago, she's already joined me at a few school programs.  The students loved learning about her, but they had one major complaint: I didn't have a name for her yet!   One class even gave me a printed list of potential names, but I haven't found one that just seems to fit, so if you have an idea for a name, please leave it in the comments below.  I'll take a handful of the suggestions and then our Patrons over on Patreon will get the final vote.

Speaking of Patreon, if you would like to be part of our supporting community for this channel, head on over to and become a member.  You're not only helping us continue to provide free, fun, and educational content to everyone, but you'll also get perks like voting on animal names and we'll soon be adding livestreams with the animal team as well.  Thank you to all of our wonderful and generous Patrons who keep us going strong.  Thank you, thank you, and if you'd like to join us for more animal adventures, please subscribe and we'll see you next week.  Bye.