Friday, October 17, 2014

Young Black Rat Snake

My house, barn and garage are home to many Black Rat Snakes, but until now, I’ve never seen a first year youngster.  This fine fellow gained entrance to the house when I left the door to the garage open while I carried some items out for storage.  I came in to find him scooting across the family room carpet and quickly moved to intercept.  The house is not a snake friendly environment and I would hate to find one like him dead and dried out on some future date.

Young Black Rat Snakes are often mistaken for Eastern Milk Snakes.  The Milk Snake shows a light “Y” shaped pattern surrounded by dark coloration that is clearly visible just behind the top of the head.  The Black Rat Snake has a gray “V” that blends into the gray on top of the head.

A black stripe begins behind the eye and ends when it reaches the corner of the mouth.

The back is marked by a series of dark blotches.  The coloration of the young snake bears little resemblance to that of the adult.  The pattern changes to an almost solid black as the snake grows.

Broken vertical bars mark the sides.  The body shape reminds me of a train tunnel.  Flat belly, straight vertical sides and a rounded back characterize the Black Rat Snake.

A double row of dark blotches runs down the belly. 

Overall, this is a very handsome looking snake.  The snake was quite docile, but by the time this shot was taken, it had warmed up enough that it wouldn’t stay still for any more photos.

I let the snake down into one of my growing containers to keep it confined long enough for a full body shot.  This guy is probably not more than a month old.

Then I let the snake go in a brush pile near the house.  The pile contains large rotting logs that will provide security from predators while my scent dissipates from its body.  I’ve noticed several animal species, especially dogs, that are attracted to the scent of humans.  I wonder if handling wild animals might put them at greater risk from these predators.

The snake wasted no time moving down into the pile of logs.
I may run across this snake again, but for now, that’s the end of this tail.


  1. I live in Montreal, Canada, and this is a sight I never see. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. You're welcome, Linda. I'm sorry you can't see these where you live.