Black Rat Snake

The common black rat snake is is typically 42 to 72 inches long and about 1.5 inches in diameter, a rather long and skinny snake.  This shy snake is all black except for having a white chin. 

Young black rat hatchlings are often mistaken for copperheads because of the color and pattern, which changes as the snake matures.  If threatened this snake will imitate a rattle snake by raising their tail and vibrating, and though they try to avoid confrontation they will strike if provoked.  Black rat snakes are considered one of the more aggressive "snappy" subspecies of rat snakes.  They are excellent swimmers.

"Cujo" was adopted by Black Pine in late 2008 after completion of the reptile house, designed to provide permanent refuge to a number of displaced reptiles.  A former "pet", the snake had lived for nearly 16 years with one owner who was moving and unable to keep his pets, which also included "Ringo", a Honduran milk snake Black Pine also adopted. 

Thousands of pet snakes become displaced each year and need refuge, for a variety of reasons.  Many young owners relocate to apartments that don't allow pets.  Some snakes are more aggressive than their owners had hoped.  Some simply have lived longer than their owner's interest lasted.  Black rat snakes can live up to 30 years in captivity, so keeping one as a pet requires a long-term commitment.

InfoBox - Rat Snake

Status:  Good.

Diet in wild:  Mice, rats, birds, eggs, squirrels, chipmunks, other snakes.

Life span in captivity:  Up to 30 years in captivity.

Size:  42 to 72" at adulthood.

Native habitat:  Southeastern U.S. and north from Oklahoma into Wisconsin.