How to Identify a Rat Snake

By Mandy Slake

Rat snakes are found throughout the eastern United States and have a highly variable color pattern. Rat snakes are found from Florida north to New England, and east through Texas and Nebraska. As their name implies, they mainly eat rats. But they also feed on other small rodents, birds, frogs and reptiles. Rat snakes are not dangerous to humans and are bred in captivity and sold as pets. Captive bred specimens are easily tamed with repeated handling.

Check the snake's scales. Rat snakes have weakly keeled scales with ridges.

Check the snake's color. Black rat snakes are all black with a white chin. Yellow rat snakes have black and greenish yellow stripes running lengthwise down the body. Gray rat snakes have a light gray body with blotches of darker gray on the spine.

Measure the snake. Adult rat snakes are 3 to 5 feet in length, but some larger subspecies can exceed 6 feet.

Look at the snake's eyes. Rat snakes have round pupils.