- Common Name
- gray rat snake, oak snake
- Genus Species
- Elaphe (the deer) obsoleta spiloides
- Gray with grayish-black blotches on both dorsal and ventral surfaces
- 91.4-182.8 cm (36-72 in) average adult length; 213.9 cm (84.3 in) maximum reported length
- No data
- Small mammals, frogs, lizards, birds, and eggs
- 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
- Southeastern United States; north to southern Indiana, west to Louisiana
- Pinelands, cypress swamp, marshland, farmland, and residential areas; sandy soil and scrub preferred
- Global: No data
- IUCN: No data
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed
- Gray rat snakes are one of the longest snakes in North America, occasionally reaching lengths of 8 feet.
- When threatened, rat snakes will "rattle" their tail, fooling other animals into believing they are venomous.
- Like pythons and boas, rat snakes are constrictors, which suffocate their prey.
- Gray rat snakes can often be found in trees, hiding in crevices or searching for food.
- 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.
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.