Gray Rat Snake
Elaphe obsoleta

Juvenile Rat Snake

Adult Rat Snake

A rat snake, like many other harmless snakes, puts on a show of aggressiveness when cornered. It vibrates its tail, creating a rattling sound in dry vegetation. It hisses and lunges, raising the front part of its body above the ground and drawing its head back in an S-shaped curve. Rat snakes usually crawl on the ground in search of rats and other rodents, thereby earning the friendship of farmers aware of their habits. They also eat frogs, lizards, birds, and bird eggs. Rat snakes are superb climbers - an ability enhanced by the special shape of their belly scales. The scales curve upward where they meet the sides, giving the reptile better traction.


An adult rat snake may reach an overall length of 3 to 8 feet. Its body is fairly stout; belly flat; sides straight; belly scales are flat in the middle, angled where they meet the sides; back scales are slightly ridged; striped, blotched, or uniformly colored.

The preferred habitat of rat snakes is swamps, hardwood forests, rocky, wooded hillsides, farms, and suburban woods.


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