Gray Rat Snake

Gray Rat Snake

Reptiles

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: gray rat snake, oak snake
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Colubridae
GENUS SPECIES: Elaphe (the deer) obsoleta spiloides

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Gray with grayish-black blotches on both dorsal and ventral surfaces
SIZE: 91.4-182.8 cm (36-72 in) average adult length; 213.9 cm (84.3 in) maximum reported length
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Small mammals, frogs, lizards, birds, and eggs
INCUBATION: Eggs laid in rotting vegetation or hollow logs in summer
CLUTCH SIZE 5-27 eggs; hatching occurs in fall
BREEDING PERIOD Breeding occurs in spring
SEXUAL MATURITY: 3-4 years
LIFE SPAN: 15-20 years in the natural environment
RANGE: Southeastern United States; north to southern Indiana, west to Louisiana
HABITAT: Pinelands, cypress swamp, marshland, farmland, and residential areas; sandy soil and scrub preferred
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN No data
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. Gray rat snakes are one of the longest snakes in North America, occasionally reaching lengths of 8 feet.
2. When threatened, rat snakes will "rattle" their tail, fooling other animals into believing they are venomous.
3. Like pythons and boas, rat snakes are constrictors, which suffocate their prey.
4. Gray rat snakes can often be found in trees, hiding in crevices or searching for food.
5. Unlike other rat snakes, gray rat snakes retain their juvenile coloration (speckled pattern) as adults.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Rat snakes are extremely important, both as predators and as prey. They help manage the rodent population by consuming small mice, rats, and voles but also become food for larger carnivores such as hawks, egrets, and foxes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Areste, Manuel and Cebrián, Rafael. Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2003.

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide - Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1991.

Mattison, Chris. Snakes of the World. Facts on File, Inc. New York, 1988.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1987.

flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herpetology/fl-guide/Elapheospiloides.htm