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What Time is it in Nature: Black Rat Snake

June 18, 2012

Black Rat Snake, Pantherophis obsoletus

Black Rat Snakes are common snakes at Prairie Ridge. These secretive and harmless snakes are often found around the outdoor classroom or in the northwestern corner of the ecostation, though you might sometimes see them near the ponds.

black rat snake

What is a Black Rat Snake? Black Rat Snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus) are long, deep black snakes with white bellies. While the record Black Rat Snake was over 8 feet long, snakes of 4-6 feet are more commonly seen at Prairie Ridge. These non-venomous animals are secretive and like to hide in the prairie grasses. They often dart away at the sound of approaching footsteps, so consider yourself lucky if you see one!

What do Black Rat Snakes eat? Black Rat Snakes are predators with a varied diet of rodents, snakes, lizards, birds, and eggs. They are constrictors, so they coil around their prey, squeeze them tight, and suffocate them before swallowing them whole.

Do Black Rat Snakes climb? Yes! Black Rat Snakes are excellent climbers and can be found in trees and birdhouses looking for food. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them climbing the supports of the outdoor classroom at Prairie Ridge or sitting on the cinder blocks along foundation of the building. Our outdoor classroom was designed with Black Rat Snakes in mind!

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Musuem’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation.  Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

(Photo by Chris Goforth)

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