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Common Names: Black Ratsnake, Chicken Snake, Pilot Snake
Scientific Name: Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus
First Described: SAY 1823

Adult Size: 120-180cm.
Temperament:  Generally placid but can be a bit nippy as hatchlings.
Temperature & Humidity Range: Provide a thermal gradient between 28°C (82°F) - 22°C (71°F), spray the enclosure daily with tepid water whilst the snake is in slough.
Brumation: Yes. 2-3 months at a temperature of between 10°-15°C is recommended, although Black Ratsnakes have been known to successfully reproduce in captivity without a brumation period.
Reproduction: Generally once a year. Clutches consist of between 5-30 eggs depending on the size and maturity of the female. At an incubation temperature of betwen 25°-29°C they are expected to hatch between 50-76 days.
Known Mutations: Amelanistic/Albino T+, Amelanistic/Albino T-, Leucistic, Calico/Brindle, White Sided, Rusty, Calico Cowsucker, Lemon Cowsucker, Lavender Albino, Albino White Sided, Grape Albino, Caramel Albino, Ultra Black & Albino Leucistic. ( See our Black Ratsnake Morph Guide )
Natural History: Living in montane regions up to 1200m to prairies, this species often can be found in the vicinity of water such as swamps, rivers and lakes. Also found on agricultural land, in urban areas, and well adapted to woodlands. This snake is mainly diurnal, although in mid summer maybe more active in the evenings. An able swimmer and excellent climber, this species is often found in trees in search of birds' nests. Wild diet consists of rodents, birds and their eggs, lizards, frogs, squirrels, moles/shrews, bats, insects, weasels, rabbits/hares and reptile eggs.
Native To: Parts of Eastern, Central USA and Canada

Map showing the distribution of Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus ( Black Ratsnake ) in the wild.
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SCHULZ, Klaus Dieter, 1996. A monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger.

Scale Counts:
Ventrals: 222-246
Subcaudals: 63-90
Dorsals: 25-27
  • Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Union County, Illinois
  • Author: Donald Becker
  • Crawford County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
  • Author: Carl Koch
  • Black Ratsnake
  • Author: AC Snakes

Conservation Status:
IUCN Red List: Not Evaluated.
State of Michigan: Special Concern
Nature Serve status: N3, vulnerable

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This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe