Our Midland Rat Snakes were acquired prior to 1991. We have one of each color phase, a gray and a black. Each rat snake receives one medium rat once a week in the spring and summer months.
Rat snakes live primarily in deciduous forests, farmland, abandoned buildings, old fields, and swamps. Midland rat snakes are excellent climbers and will spend a lot of time in trees and bushes.
34 - 101 inches
The appearance of rat snakes vary throughout their regions. At CA&NC, we have two color phases, gray and black. The black rat snake, as the name states, is completely black except for its white chin. Hatchlings of the black rat snake have a pale gray background with black blotches along its back. As the snake matures, the color becomes darker until the snake reaches its adult phase. The gray rat snake keeps the blotched juvenile pattern its entire life. The blotches will vary between dark gray and brown.
They eat mainly rats or mice, as their name suggests. They will also eat chipmunks, moles and other small rodents. Adults will eat bird eggs and young birds that do not put up a strong fight. Rat snakes kill their prey by constriction.
Between March and May snakes begin to emerge from the winter’s hibernation. After a few weeks, common rat snakes begin to seek out mates. Males tend to wait for the females to pass through their territory, and by using pheromones, will communicate and initiate the mating process with the female. Five weeks later, the female will lay around 12 to 20 eggs in a hidden area, under hollow logs or leaves, or in abandoned burrow. The eggs hatch 65 to 70 days later. Hatchlings are vigorous eaters and will double in size rather quickly. Females will sometimes produce two clutches of eggs per year, if conditions are right.
- Midland rat snakes are the longest species native to Tennessee.
- Rat snakes are very useful around barns and in farming communities because they help control pest populations.
- Scientists are continually reexamining the classification for this group of snakes. Some herpetologists do not accept the division of the species formerly known at the Rat Snake into the three species Elaphe obsoleta, Elaphe spilodes, and Elaphe appalachiensis because of the arbitrary division of the distribution into three non-overlapping ranges, the lack of field characters to separate the three species, and the absence of any apparent evidence that the three species are reproductively isolated. For those who recognize only a single species, the correct name is Elaphe obsoleta.