The black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsolete) is a medium-sized snake with the white chin and throat. It has all black and shiny skin. The black rat snake is the largest snake in Michigan State. Get to know this black snake through these informative black rat snake facts. It is amongst the most common snakes in West Virginia. They are the close relatives of yellow and Texas rat snakes.
Black Rat Snake Facts
Anatomy of Black Rat Snake
- The black rat snake averages 42 to 72 inches (106.7 to 183 cm) in length. Its average diameter measures 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).
- As it grows in age, it becomes darker. The young snakes are often mistaken as copperhead snakes.
- The rat snakes are quite shy and they prefer not to get into the confrontation, will avoid if possible. When feel threatened, it freezes itself and stays motionless.
Black Rat Snake Distribution
- The black rat snakes are found in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula to as high as 3,760 feet. It is fairly common in West Virginia.
- It is distributed across southern Wisconsin, eastern half of Texas, and Florida. The black rat snakes also occupy the northern tip of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia.
- Some of the isolated population is also found in the northern New York and southern Canada.
Black Rat Snake Habitat
- The black rat snakes make homes in a variety of habitats such as in forested wetlands, brushy fields, hardwood forests, river flood plains, mountain ledges, rocky hillsides, and farming areas.
- It is often found living in cities in barns and outbuildings.
Black Rat Snake Behavior
- It is diurnal but is also active at night.
- The black rat snakes can be aggressive at times.
- It is often seen vibrating its tail just like rattlesnakes do.
Feeding Ecology and Black Rat Snake Diet
- The black rat snakes are large predators that prey on a variety of animals including snakes. They are semi-arboreal species. They will climb trees to seek protection in hollowed cavities.
- The black rat snakes’ diet consists of voles, mice, squirrels, shrews, rabbits, birds, chipmunks, and rats. It also goes after the bird’s nest to eat eggs.
- The young snakes will consume small amphibians and lizards.
Black Rat Snake Reproductive Biology
- The snakes breed from March to the end of May.
- The female lays 12 – 20 white oblong eggs which is 2 inches in diameter.
- It lays eggs in abandoned burrows or in hollow logs, sawdust piles, decaying leaf litter.
- The eggs take 65 – 70 days to hatch in August or October.
- The young snakes are 11 – 16 inches long.
- It reaches maturity at the age of 4 years.
- The average lifespan is not known.