- Scientific Name
- Pantherophis alleghaniensis
- All of Virginia
- Also Known As
- Black Rat snake, Pilot Black Snake, Chicken Snake
- Shiny Black Back with White or Cream Belly
- Rodents, Insects, Chickens, Eggs
- Litter Size
- 5 - 19 Eggs per Birth
- Life Span
- 34 Years
- 42 - 72 Inches
Quick Links for Eastern Rat Snake
Eastern Rat Snake Description
Eastern Rat Snake Appearance
Juveniles will have the same pattern as the adults, and has a white margin around the eye. This can remain in adults, but it is not common.
This snake is normally between 42 to 72 inches long, however, the record length for this snake is about 101 inches. The record found in Virginia is 79.8 inches. This makes the Eastern Rat Snake the only 6+ foot snake in Virginia.
Juveniles tend to be 11 to 13 inches long.
Eastern Rat Snake Behavior
These snakes are active during the spring and fall, but become nocturnal in the summer due to the heat. There isn’t anywhere in Virginia that these snakes cannot get into, they are excellent swimmers, climbers, and diggers.
During the winter these snakes hibernate where they hide under rocks, boards, yard debris, wherever. These snakes are generally solitary creatures, but it is not unheard of them congregating with other snakes of other species, such as the copperhead.
If these snakes are threatened they will freeze. If the threat continues to come towards them they will release a horrible smell, and if that doesn’t deter then they will strike.
It is illegal in Virginia to keep Wild Snakes as pets
Range and Habitat of The Eastern Rat Snake
These can be found in everywhere in Virginia, but they are not as common in Southwestern Virginia. These snakes are found throughout the East Coast, reaching from Florida to Vermont.
Their habitat is extremely varied, their habitat consists of forests, wetlands, farmland, fields, forest edges, woodland near or in urban areas, and backyards with a lot of food. These snakes could also live in your attic, hunting prey or using it as a nest.
Their diet consists or mice and rodents, frogs, lizards, birds, and eggs. They are also known to eat you chickens and chicks which lead to their nickname “Chicken Snake”
Reproduction and Young
Mating for these snakes occur in the May or June, and they will only mate once for the year. They generally will lay their eggs after one month of conception.