The Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsolete) also know as the chicken snake is a big thick bodied snake which its coloration can
vary greatly. The adults average 41/2 to 51/2 feet long but they are regularly report at and over 7ft long. The record length
for this snake was just over 100 inches long which means that it is one of the longest snakes in North America. Most from the most
northern part of its range is almost pure black while the ones in the southern part of its range are lighter and grayer. The
black rat snake sometimes will intergrade with Yellow Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata)
in the Carolinas (which are also known as “Greenish Rat Snakes”) and also they
sometimes will intergrade with Grey Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsoleta spiloides). The
southern variation is usually not as black as the ones in the North. The southern Black Rat Snakes sometimes have grayish
saddles or blotches on its back with a black background and also it can be in reverse with blackish saddles or blotches with
a grayish background. The juveniles of the black rat do not look anything like the adults. They are usually bright grey with
black blotches or saddles.
The Black Rat Snake can be found
in a great variety of habitats. It can be easily found in the largest city to the secluded mountains of the North. They can
be found in deciduous and hardwood forest. They love to climb so any big tree can easily be a home for one. Also they can
be found in lowland swamps/marshes to rocky outcrops on sides on mountains in the north. The also can be found on occasion
in winter den sites with timber rattlesnakes and copperheads. They also can be found in near or around abandoned buildings
and barns. In these areas they can be found under pieces of tin and sheet metal, up in the rafters in these buildings. The
can also be found in and around stone walls and trash heaps.
Like what the Black Rat Snakes name
indicates its main food source is rats and other small mammals.
It will also eat birds and bird eggs, frogs, and lizards.
Abundance and Behavior:
The black rat snake is one
of the most common snakes found in Central and Eastern United Snakes and it also has the broadest ranges of any rat snake
in North America. The behavior of the black rat snake is very unpredictable compared to most
snakes. I have personally found them at every time of the day. In the northern part of their range they are mostly Diurnal
(comes out during the day) but in the south they are both Diurnal and Nocturnal (comes out
during the day). In the south they can be found on the roads anytime of the day. In the mountain areas in their range they
can be found sunning their selves during the day. They can also be found climbing trees looking for food or shelter.