Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)

Abundant and statewide, Rat Snakes can be quite variable in appearance from yellowish and striped to brownish to solid black above. The underside, which is not usually visible unless captured, is mottled gray/white. The chin and underside of the head, however, is usually noticeably whitish. Dorsal scales are keeled. Superficially similar to Black Racers, racers have smooth scales, longer tails, and usually race off quickly when encountered in the wild. Young Rat Snakes are quite boldly blotched and often mistaken for other species.
Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Orange Co., NC
29 May 2008

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Orange Co., NC
7 Jun 2006

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Orange Co., NC
7 Jun 2006


Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Durham Co., NC
21 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) (top) and Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) (bottom)
Durham Co., NC
21 Apr 2013

Excellent comparison showing the "glossy" finish of rat snakes compared to the "matte" finish of racers that herpetologist Jeff Beane talks about.

This also shows how lighting and cameras make a difference because this is the same rat snake as in the above photo after the racer had raced away, but the photo was taken with a different camera.

And finally, this illustrates how rat snakes are often mellow and stay put while racers almost immediately become active and try to escape!


Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Durham Co., NC
9 May 2013

I believe this is the same individual as the one in the two photos above. Clearly it's approaching time to shed its skin!


Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013

Some Rat Snakes, when agitated, will accentuate a triangular shape to their head and will rear up in a threatening posture (see below) before striking.

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Moore Co., NC
20 Apr 2013

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Orange Co., NC
29 May 2004

Rat Snakes are often encountered on roads & trails, and they often have a "wrinkled" or kinked appearance.


Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Durham Co., NC
24 Sep 2004

Rat Snakes are often found in crawlspaces or buildings where mice, toads, or other delicacies are hiding.


Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Carteret Co., NC
2 Dec 2005

Here I am holding a very docile Rat Snake as the temperature was very chilly the day we found it in the grass.

Photo by Will Cook.

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)

Lounging!

Orange Co., NC
6 May 2006
Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Orange Co., NC
6 May 2006

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)

Here's lookin' atcha!

Orange Co., NC
16 May 2006

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Orange Co., NC
2 Apr 2007
Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Orange Co., NC
2 Apr 2007

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008

Rat Snakes near the coast in North Carolina have a yellow or green tint and show dark longitudinal stripes.

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008


Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Tyrrell Co., NC
23 Oct 2013
Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Tyrrell Co., NC
23 Oct 2013

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008

This snake was very docile. We gently picked it up and it never showed any aggression. After taking photos, we released him into the ditch near the road he was crossing when we found him.

Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta) Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Hyde Co., NC
20 Sep 2008



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Created on ... July 30, 2005 | Update on ... Oct 15, 2008 | jeffpippen9@gmail.com