what type of snake scared

Asked June 26, 2019, 12:07 PM EDT

hi, came home from work and my neighbor was proud to show me this snake in his tree, unfortunately I was not Happy, just scared. don't like them and it worries me cause I have a garden, no trees in front of the house only in the back at the perimeter of my back yard. After hearing about a Cobra in someone's yard in Pennsylvania. this has made me can't sleep and leary to go in my garden.
My question is this a garden snake as my neighbor says or should I be really worried.

thanking you inadvance.

New Castle County Delaware

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The cobra in Pennsylvania was one that escaped from someone's private collection or just released by its owner. Cobras do not occur naturally in North or South America. They are found in Africa and Asia. While there is always the possibility you may encounter an escaped non-native snake, the chances are pretty remote. I would not let this keep you from enjoying your garden.

The snake in your photograph is a black ratsnake, scientific name Pantherophis obsoletus. Some herpetologists divide some snakes into separate subspecies, and this snake is sometimes called the Eastern ratsnake, scientific name Pantherophis alleghaniensis. It is a non-venomous species.

This snake is found throughout or in portions of every eastern state except Maine and New Hampshire. They live in a variety of habitats, including forests, open areas and urban settings, especially if there are still sufficient numbers of trees.

This is one of the longest snakes we have in the eastern/southeastern United States. Typical length is 4-5 feet, but a maximum length of slightly over 8 feet have been recorded. They are excellent climbers, and are often found in shrubs and trees.

They feed primarily on mice and rats, but also eat birds and young squirrels. They are also fond of chicken eggs.

If you're interested in learning more about snakes in your area, this is an excellent guide:

Gibbons, Whit. (2017). Snakes Of The Eastern United States. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim