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Georgia Reptiles and Amphibians

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Black Rat Snake

Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta

Found in Murray County,Ga


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.

Live and Let Live

All photos are taken by myself unless noted otherwise. All photos are Copyright 2005. If you would like to use any just email me and I will be happy to let anyone use them.


Disclaimer!!! Please do not do anything you see me do on this website. These are very dangerous animals and I understand the risk of working with them. The bite from some of these animals can easily kill me or do extreme harm. If you do want to get into venomous herpeculture please do as much research as possible about them before considering working with them. Also I would suggest getting proper training from professional before working with them too.