DEEP: Black Rat Snake

Black Rat Snake

(Elaphe o. obsoleta)

{Black Rat Snake}

IDENTIFICATION: A large, heavy-bodied black snake, body square-shaped in cross section. The large head is well defined from the body by a thin neck. The scales are weakly keeled, most noticeable at mid-body. Some specimens have traces of white banding on the dorsum. The venter is white with a black checkerboard pattern. Adult total length 1160-1720 mm.

This snake, Connecticut's longest, is irregularly distributed within the state. Its center of abundance encompasses the southeastern hills and coastal region of the state, from New Haven eastward to the Rhode Island state line. Black rat snakes are irregularly distributed in the coastal areas and southwestern hills up to southern Litchfield County. In the Central Connecticut Lowland, they are found along the trap rock ridge formations northward into central Massachusetts. Black rat snakes are arboreal as well as terrestrial, and favor areas with well- developed forest cover. They also enter barns and attics in search of rodents. The black rat snake has flourished with the reforestation of the state that has occurred over the last century. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation and road mortality. It is a gentle snake that adapts well to captivity and collection of these snakes from the wild has been a problem at some sites. To address the collection pressure, Section 26-66-14-B of the Connecticut Code sets an open season from May 1 through August 31 when this species can be taken only by hand or handheld implement with a daily and seasonal bag limit of one snake. Eggs are strictly protected against collection.

Snakes | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut