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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

bull snake

Capt. Lewis, August 5, 1804--Killed a serpent on the bank of the river adjoining a large prarie.

Length from nose to tail 5 F 2. Inch
Circumpherence in largest part   4 1/2
Number of scuta on belly   221.
Do. on Tale   53

No pison teeth therefore think him perfectly inocent, eyes, center black with a border of pale brown yellow Colour of skin on head yellowish green with black specks on the extremity of the scuta which are pointed or triangular colour of back, transverse stripes of black and dark brown of an inch in width, succeeded by a yellowish brown of half that width the end of the tale hard and pointed like a cock's spur the sides are speckled with yellowish brown and black. two roes of black spots on a lite yellow ground pass throughout his whole length on the upper points of the scuta of the belly and tale 1/2 Inch apart this snake is fulgarly called the cow or bull snake from a bellowing nois which it is said sometimes to make resembling that anamal, tho' as to this fact I am unable to attest it never having heard them make that or any other nois myself.

Capt. Clark, August 5, 1804--Snakes are not plenty, one was killed to day large and resembling the rattle Snake, only something lighter.

Capt. Lewis, September 5, 1804--This day one of our hunters brought us a Serpent beautifully varigated with small black spotts of a romboydal form on a light yellow white ground the black p[r]edominates most on the back the whiteis[h] yellow on the sides, and it is nearly white on the belly with a few party coloured scuta on which the black shews but imperfectly and the colouring matter seems to be underneath the Scuta. it is not poisonous it hisses remarkably loud; it has 221 Scuta on the belly and 51 on the tale, the eyes are of a dark black colour the tale terminates in a sharp point like the substance of a cock's spur.

Capt. Lewis, May 16, 1806--... I killed a snake near our camp, it is 3 feet 11 Inches in length, is much the colour of the rattlesnake common to the middle atlantic states, it has no poisonous teeth. it has 218 scutae on the abdomen and fifty nine squamae or half formed scutae on the tail. the eye is of moderate size, the iris of the dark yellowish brown and puple black. there is nothing remarkable in the form of the head which is not so wide across the jaws as those of the poisonous class of snakes usually are. I preserved the skin of this snake.

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