Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Black Rat Snakes

The Black Rat Snake is the largest snake in Virginia and Maryland, growing up to eight feet long. A mature Rat Snake is solid black, with a white belly. A young black rat snake will have a broken black and white pattern.

Black Rat Snakes are found in forests, fields, marshes, and farmland. In the Spring and Fall, these snakes are very active during the day; in the Summer they are more active at night.

Rat Snakes are excellent climbers and will often hide in the holes of hollow trees and logs -- the very spots they will overwinter in, and where they will lay their clutch of 5 to 30 eggs.

Black Rat Snakes are constrictors; once they catch their prey, they wrap their body around it and squeeze until the animal suffocates. Their primary foods are mice, rats, chipmunks, bird eggs, baby birds, lizards, frogs, and other snakes, but they will also tackle baby squirrels and small rabbits if they get a chance. They are quite harmless to humans.

In April and May, look for rat snakes in the hollows of trees, in rotted stumps, and around barns where they often prowl for mice. They are quite capable of climbing up the rough planks of an old barn side, and are often found in haylofts.

1 comment:

judyenright said...

I just rescued a black snake with a white belly from a piece of mesh netting. I didn't think I could do it, but with a box cutter, a y-shaped twig to keep the snake from trying to bite me, I cut away the netting from almost the entire length of it's about 4 foot body. It shook its tail as if it was a rattler which suprised me. We live on a small lake and I think I have seen this snake swimming. I am assuming it is a Black rat snake.