Black Rat Snake & Gray Rat Snake

Black Rat Snake & Gray Rat Snake

(Pantherophis obsoletus) & (Pantherophis spiloides)


Central North America


Adults can average between 3 to 6 ft.

Females tend to get longer than males.

Record length is 8ft 5in, making it the longest snake in North America.


10-15 years, up to 30 years in captivity



A constrictor species, they suffocate their prey by coiling around the animal and tightening until the prey can no longer breath. Then the snake swallows its prey whole.

Some prey species include frogs, lizards, chipmunks, squirrels, small rabbits, opossums, birds, eggs, mice, rats, etc.


Diurnal during the fall and spring but becomes more nocturnal during the summer.

They hibernate during the winter months.


Breeding season is in late May and early June.

Five weeks after mating, the female lays about 12 to 20 eggs.

Then eggs are about 1 to 3 inches long and have a soft, leathery shell.

The eggs hatch about 65 to 70 days later. This is usually August to early October.

Hatchlings are about 11 to 16 inches long.

Juveniles look different than the adults. They are born with brown blotches on a gray background. Their belly is patterned with black and white checker pattern. As they grow and age, they darken in color and the blotches become less distinguished.

Extra Facts:

The Black Rat Snake is known by many other names. Some of their other common names are black chicken snake, black coluber, chicken snake, mountain black snake, mountain pilot snake, rat snake, rusty black snake, scaly black snake, cow snake, schwartze schlange, sleepy john, and white-throated racer.

They get the name pilot snake because it was thought that they would lead timber rattlesnakes and copperheads to their winter dens.

When threatened, they will vibrate their tail in the dirt and leaves often sounding similar to a rattlesnake.

In captivity, there are multiple color variations.