Black rat snake the most widely dispersed rat snake using a range stretching from New England south through Georgia and west across the northern sections of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, along with north through Oklahoma to southern Wisconsin. Populations can be found both in northern New York and southern Canada.
There are not any subspecies currently recognized by scientists (see species/taxonomy under ). The black rat snake is really a medium-sized snake having an ordinary duration ranging from 40 to 70 inches (1.0 into 1.77 m), and as its name suggests, it is entirely black except for the white eyebrow and belly.
The species can also be known by other common names such as the Texas rat snake or pilot black snake. In some regions, they are called simply”black snakes” and tend to be confused with racers such as the black racer, but unlike them, the black rat snake has keeled scales. Like their relatives the oriental rat snake they are occasionally called a chicken snake.
Black Forest snakes typically inhabit woodlands but may be often found in a variety of other habitats like river floodplains, swamp boundaries, rocky hillsides, mountain ledges, farmlands or open fields.
They have also adapted to live in more developed locations, living in homes, lawns, and farm buildings where they hunt mice down. These snakes are extremely skillful climbers and will climb high in trees up to find prey, but also scale rafters from barns and other structures.
What do black rat snakes eat?
Much like boas and pythons the black rat snake is a powerful constrictor, when it catches it’s prey, then it is going to wrap the entire body and squeeze until the unfortunate creature dies.
Black rat snakes consume a variety of animals including lizards, frogs, chipmunks, rabbits, little rabbits, mice, rats, rats, voles, shrews, other smaller mammals and even other snakes.
They also eat birds and their eggs. Like other snakes, the digestion is a process and at times it takes for a victim to be fully digested. While snakes can feed on a weekly basis, snakes that are elderly will only feed 2 times per month.
Just like most snake species the black rat snake is an egg layer or oviparous. The rat snake generally mates only once annually, however, females will occasionally produce 2 clutches of eggs in a year if circumstances permit. The species reaches sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years of age.
The mating season occurs in late May and early June, soon after the snakes have emerged from hibernation in March or May. In prep for breeding and also to communicate both men and females release pheromones.The mating act itself can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
Men will fight each other for the right to mate with the females that are receptive. The males will commonly mate with several females, so that stay pregnant for a period of approximately 5 months.
The black rat snake lays out a clutch of 3 up to 30 eggsin deserted burrows, piles of dead leaves, rotten logs under stones. These will hatch in late August to early October.
The eggs measure approximately 2 inches in length, and when the young snakes vibrate they are around 1foot (30 cm) long and are a pale grey using black or dark brown blotches along the sides and back. As they increase their colour becomes darker till it will become black.
The black rat snake is one of the most common snake species found in Central and Eastern United States, and it is not listed as rare, endangered or compromised on a federal level.
The species has been listed as Least Concern by IUCN because of its broad distribution, some tolerance to habitat modification and assumed substantial population numbers.
But these non-venomous snakes tend to be victims of roadkill and human persecution when mistaken with additional venomous snake species like copperheads.
They are listed as special concern species in the state of Michigan as their habitat has been reduced due to land development.
Old and New World rat snakes have been classified in exactly the exact same genus, Elaphe, up till early 2000’s.
Now rat snakes found in North America are thought closely about the king snakes like the California kingsnake than to the Old World rat snake species.
But because the black rat snake scientific classification has undergone many changes in the past several years. The species has been transferred with 3 species also proposed to an genus.
These snakes have been previously put in the genus Elaphe, as Elaphe obsoleta, however, phylogenetic studies moved them to the genus Pantherophis since the western rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus). To the 3 species, the genus Scotophis was resurrected in 2008 but following studies dismissed these changes.
The other species with these changes were the central ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides) and also the eastern ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis), even though the 3 species are morphologically indistinguishable. Together with more recent research suggesting that the ratsnake and the eastern ratsnake interbreed freely in Ontario.
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