1. How fast do Bull Snakes grow?

A. Scientific data on this is rather hard to find. I did find one page here with some data from a 2002 study of Louisiana Pine Snakes. In addition to that I have read that it is common for Bull Snakes to double their hatch length in the first year. Growth rate seems to be rather consistent for the first three years of their life. All of this depends on proper husbandry of the Bull Snake (feeding, habitat care, etc.) as well as the genetics of the snake. Alice seems to follow this rule, however I do not know her hatch length and can only estimate. She was close to two feet long at 6 months when I acquired her, close to three feet long at one year of age and was slightly over five feet long at two years of age.

2. What brand of laser infrared temperature gun should I use?

A. After checking around and looking at the specs, I decided to buy one off ebay. I ended up paying less than $20 in March of 2010. Accurate to within %2 for the temps we monitor and a range from below freezing to 700+F with a laser pointer. Not a seconds trouble from it. Also helps to validate the accuracy of the digital gauges in the habitat. The are also a number of units available from companies like Pro Exotics, etc. that are excellent choices.

13 Responses to FAQ

  1. carlton matthews says:

    Hi, I have a bull snake too. Mine is a male just over a year old. His name is Hissy for obvious reasons. I have a question about Alices cage. Does she move her hides around or do they stay in place pretty well? Also in a photo one hide is on something. What is it and why? Hissy just got his permanent home the other day. We went with a proline 48x24x18. I use a reptile basics radiant heat panel controlled by a reptile basics thermostat. I don’t know about Alice but I’ve tried all of the beddings and Hissy goes nuts with zoo meds aspen snake bedding. I was also wanting to know if you provide Alice with any night time lighting? Thanks for sharing Alice I enjoy reading about her.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Carlton,

    Anything that is not attached in some way gets moved around by Alice. She loves to dig and at her size, it’s easy to push things around. What you might be looking at in the photo is a raised area the provides belly heat. It covers about 1/3 of the habitat floor and is controlled by a Herpstat proportional thermostat. Other than that she has a log laying flat that she likes to lay her head on and watch what is happening. There is another log that is attached to the floor so she can climb when she feels like it. I am testing cyprus mulch right now, however I might be going back to aspen shavings. The mulch is a little more difficult to dig in, however that may be good exercise. To get additional heat in her habitat I am using an infrared heat lamp that does not disturb the day/night cycle. It puts out a red light so I can see what she is doing at night. During the Spring and Summer, I do not use the infrared heat lamp. Her daytime lights are on a timer the follows the natural day/night cycle for our area.

    I am glad you enjoy the site and Hissy is a cool name for a Bull. I plan to add some additional content in the future. Another video or two possibly. Thanks for visiting us.

  3. carlton matthews says:

    Hi again. I wanted to tell you that I’ve tried substrate blends. I’ve only used zoo meds substrates. I’ve tried reptifresh/forest floor blend, forest floor/eco earth/reptibark blend and, eco earth/reptibark blend. Presently Hissy is in plain eco earth. What’s good about it is he can still burrow and its easy to raise the humidity for shedding. I can tell though Hissys favorite is aspen snake beding. The problem with it for me is you have to do something like provide a container or hide with moss for a humid place for shedding. The other problem is I never see him because he is always burried. Since he stays burried in it for so long it also makes it harder to spot clean. I’ve never tried a blend with sand but am thinking about an eco earth/repti sand blend. They all have trade offs. Good luck

  4. Emilie says:

    A lot of the websites I’m reading recommend moving your snake to a feeding box before feeding, so they don’t each the substrate and because they can get aggressive when they think about food (don’t associate it with the normal habitat). They also say to not handle your snake after feeding. Do you do this? Is it OK to pick the snake up to move it back into it’s cage?


  5. admin says:


    Throughout her early years, I fed Alice in a separate tub and moved her back into her habitat once she had a chance to calm down after eating ( about 30 minutes ). I also had a feeding bin that would fit inside her habitat and could feed her in the feeding bin and put the feeding bin inside her habitat so she could come out of it when she wanted to. As she got up over 6 foot long, the feeding bin became impractical and I started feeding her inside her habitat. This has not caused any issues as I feed her on a paper plate or on another clean surface. Also she exhibits no cage aggression as a result of feeding her in her habitat. They do pick up on routines, so if you have different ways of approaching/awakening your snake when it is feeding time verses feeding time, they will learn when the difference. If you do use a feeding bin and keep the handling to just what is required to move the snake, that should not be an issue. Then wait at least 24 to 48 hours before handling again. Hope that helps.


  6. Christos says:


    I was wondering if i could copy your care sheet in my website and refer you as the source. I am creating an all-in-one website for reptile care. Email me and let me know if you are interested.

  7. admin says:


    If you are still interested in using the care sheet from alicethebullsnake.com, I think we can work that out. To reference the source of the content, I would like you to use a link to alicethebullsnake.com or you can even do a direct link to the care sheet on my site. Your website looks very nice by the way. Let me know if you are still interested.


  8. kyle says:

    I have a baby bullsnake at a little over a foot in length. I believe she is a girl based on tail length but I have not probed her yet to verify. I’m actually 90% sure I’m right. I’ve had hundreds of snakes in captivity in my life, usually catch and release, but Bullseye is not growing, does not shed, and eats regularly. I’ve never had a snake do this in captivity. I’ve had them refuse to eat but never have I had a snake eat and not grow. I am estimating her age to be a year this summer. I caught her early fall 2014. As far as I can tell she seems to enjoy her habitat. And despite not being able to vocally communicate I’ve always had a strong sense of what animals feel. She lets me hold her and only hisses at first disturbance. The first bullsnake I caught took three days to tame enough to hold without leather gloves, but that one was also 5 1/2 feet long hahaha. Bullseye tamed down right away. Though I still handle her as little as possible right now just in case she doesn’t handle captivity well. I thought she would be fine as soon as she started eating but after seeing this lack of growth I’m trying to find someone who knows what the problem might be. I am very knowledgeable about almost every other area in snakes if anyone else has a quesrion. I want to work with venomous snakes and have read almost every book in iowa on snakes. Along with numerous other animals.

  9. admin says:

    Hi Kyle,

    I have never come across that combination of eating and not growing myself. The only thought I have is possibly a heavy load of internal parasites. Have you had a fecal sample checked?

  10. stephanie says:

    I have a rescued bullsnake and had a few questions. My husband is a mechanic and came across a coworker spraying break clean on the snake, so he brought him home to me in a slurpee cup. He was just a hatchling, at about 10 inches my husband thought he was a garder snake. It was winter so we wanted to get him eating and let it get warm before we released him, but long story short, he is very happy with us and we are happy to have him. He has always eaten well. We feed him every week and he has never had problems with it. We originally had him in a ten gallon tank, but he quickly outgrew it and is now in a much larger tank (marketed for tortoises). We still feed him in the ten gallon tank and he does well being handled to go in there and go back, but outside of that we have chosen to not handle him often for fear he may stop eating. We have had him for about six months now and are confident that he will not stop eating. We really want to start handling him more often and get him accustomed to us. Is he still too young for this? I have been told that young bullsnakes should not be handled, but I am more familiar with boas and pythons so I am not sure as to the specific needs of the species. When we had young boas we had pouches to tie them in so we could carry them around under our shirts and they could get used to our smell while staying warm. Is that an option as a good start for bulls as well, or do they typically require different steps? I was also wondering if they are typically very active snakes, as he does seem to be. He loves to take his thermometer/humidity guage off the side of the cage and flip it around and play with it. I give him empty toilet paper tubes and he seems to enjoy playing in and with them, and I am just wondering, what other toys are snake safe? I have never had a snake require toys before, but he is very playful and even plays through the glass with our dog (he has never hissed at or struck at him, he just follows him and flicks his tongue at him). They have never met outside of the cage, nor would I feel comfortable introducing them, i just mention this to convey that he is very curious about everything. Any tips you have to socialize him in a safe way would be greatly appreciated, as well as any ideas for his playground!

    Also your post says it is typical for them to double in length in the first year. He has more than doubled in six months, and there is no research in this anywhere that i can find… do you know if this is particularly uncommon? I dont think i am feeding him too often at once a week as if he had his way it would be every three days.

    *as a side note, he has about four inches of substrate and loves to dig, he also has a large rock formation/hide and a pool he still easily fits fully into.

  11. admin says:

    Sorry for the late reply. The email ended up in my spam folder. First of all, thanks for rescuing the snake. Don’t worry about the handling breaking the good feeding cycle. You do want to avoid handling them the day of feeding and for about 24 to 48 hours after that. Moving them to and from a feeding bin is no problem though. While many snakes will just chill out and stay still when being handled, Bullsnakes tend to be actively moving. That being said, I have had my Bullsnake just find an interesting spot on my clothing or body and just lay there trying to figure out what it is and where it has been. Outside of the feeding schedule, handle them often for short periods of time. I tend to handle Alice for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. They do not have the capacity for play as far as we can tell, however they are very curious creatures and love to investigate their surroundings. They are extremely strong, so whatever items you have in the habitat need to be secure so they do not topple onto the snake; So hides, real or fake stones, cork flats and small branches are all good enrichment items. On the feedings, a rodent about the same diameter of the snake at its thickest is a good sized meal and you can feed them about once a week for the first several years of their life. Once the growth rate slows, you will need to reduce the feedings to every 10 to 14 days to keep the snake from becoming overweight. You can usually tell from activity levels when a snake is hunting for food. They are easy to overfeed, however it sounds like you are doing a great job. Hope this helps out. Thanks, Jim.

  12. Mark Aitkenhead says:

    I have a bullsnake and he’s been feeding and shedding fine up until his Las shed about 3 week’s ago his shed qas in 4 pieces and although he ate the day after his shed, I haven’t seen him for 2 weeks and he refused food for the first time 2 weeks ago, any advice please

  13. admin says:

    Several things to check. The house heater running during the winter makes it harder to keep humidity at normal levels. You may need to keep some moist sphagnum moss in the habitat to keep the humidity from falling into the teens and below. Only during the shedding period you can raise the humidity up to a max of 50%. Also make sure the temp gradient is ranging from 85 degrees on the warm end to around 75 degrees on the cool end. Check for mites as parasites can also cause shedding issues. Also snakes will quickly go back into a shed process if the shed was incomplete. Keep checking on the snake to see if the eyes have gone opaque again. Make sure the snake is responding normally, flicking its tongue, and moving in a normal manner. If everything checking out okay, give it a couple more weeks to see if behavior returns to normal. Alice has gone off feed for up to two or three months, always during the winter months. If the temps did get low in the habitat, the snake could just think it needs to prepare for winter and keep its stomach empty. In that case, restoring the proper temps should get things back on track. Keep monitoring body condition and quickly get the snake to a vet that works with exotics if the body condition or behavior starts to deteriorate. Hope this helps and feel free to reach out if you have further questions.

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