Snake id

Asked September 30, 2020, 8:07 AM EDT

Can you identify this snake?

Carbon County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photograph is a juvenile 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.

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

Here's a link to the PA Herps website where you can find out more information and see additional photographs of this species:

https://www.paherps.com/herps/snakes/rat_snake/

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