Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta
Black rat snakes, like most other rat snakes, can reach eight feet in length. They have slender bodies, are non-venomous, and can subdue their prey via constriction. As adults, they are primarily black except for the little bit of white between their scales, and on their chin and throat. Black rat snakes can be found in hard-wood forests, swamps, timbered upland, farmland, barns, and old fields. Black rat snakes are excellent for pest control, preying mostly on rodents. They are most active during the day, but still prefer to stay nearby protective cover. When threatened, these snakes will release a pungent musk. Black rat snakes are great climbers, which helps them ascend rafters and trees to prey on mice and even bird eggs and squirrels. Black rat snakes can be found throughout the east coast from southern Vermont to Florida. Black rat snakes hibernate in the winter, often with other snakes such as the venomous rattlesnake or copperhead. This has led them to be mistakenly dubbed the “Pilot Snake”, under the assumption that the black rat snake guides or pilots the other snakes to safe den areas. Their average lifespan in the wild is 10-15 years, however under human care, a black rat snake can live more than 20 years.
Date of Birth: May 2001
Oak was born in the wild, but has lived under human care for many years. Oak was on display in Appalachian Station, then made his way to the Education Department.
What Makes Oak Unique? Oak has been nicknamed “Limp Noodle” by our teen volunteers due to his generally mellow behavior. He is the larger of the two education black rat snakes.
Date of Birth: April 2011
Birch was brought into the Nature Center as a young snake in May of 2012. He is now used in educational programs.
What Makes Birch Unique? Birch shares a habitat with Oak. He often coils himself close to Oak, but overall is much more active and exploratory.