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Rat Snakes

Yellow Rat Snake

Yellow Rat Snake - Elaphe obsoleta                   Photo Claire Sunquist ©

Rat snakes can grow to be six feet long (1.8 m).  They are long slim snakes with a head only slightly wider than their body.  The yellow rat snake (above), the most common color morph in Peninsula Florida, is typically yellowish with four brownish black stripes along the body. These snakes are also know as chicken snakes because they are sometimes found in chicken coops where they seek out eggs. 

After we found our local yellow rat snake stuck halfway through a hole in our chicken pen, we were forced to make a slightly larger hole in the wire to allow him to come and go more easily.  He came regularly for nearly a year, once a week, often on the same day of the week, but never ate more than one egg at a time.  It was more than worth an egg a week for the pleasure of his company.

Rat snakes tame easily, and many people keep them as pets.  They are common around buildings and barns, and on forest edges. These snakes are excellent climbers and can climb the rough bark of a pine tree with ease.  They can also swim.

                                                                            Photo Fiona Sunquist ©

The Red Rat Snake, Elaphe guttata is also known as the Corn snake. It is dark reddish orange with large darker red blotches down the back and sides.  The belly is marked with a black and white checkerboard pattern.

This snake is also common around barns and old buildings, and feeds on mice and birds.  If approached it will coil, strike and bite but it becomes quite tame in captivity if handled regularly.


Gray Rat Snake

                                                                           Photo Alan Cressler ©

The Gray Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta spiloides, is the gray subspecies of rat snake is found in the Florida panhandle and west into Louisiana. These beautiful snakes have a gray body with large blotches along the back and sides. They are found in almost every habitat, where they prey on rodents, birds, and birds’ eggs.



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Wildlife of Florida 2011
Wildlife of Florida 2011
Fiona Sunquist
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Wildlife of Florida: Lizards
Fiona Sunquist
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