black rat snake

Black Rat Snake

Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta


The Black Rat Snake is black or dark brown with traces of white between the scales.


This snake can grow up to seven feet in length and weighs an average of 2.5 pounds.



The Black Rat Snake's prey consists of mice, rats, chipmunks, birds, and bird eggs. The Black Rat Snake at Cosley Zoo eats mice and chicks and is fed once a week, on Sundays.


Black Rat Snakes mate between April and June. In late June or July, the female buries 5 to 30 eggs in a rotten log, decaying leaf litter or under rocks. The leathery-shelled eggs are white, oblong and about 1.5 to 2 inches long. The eggs hatch in 7 to 15 weeks. The young snakes are on their own and require no parental care.

Shelter and Space Needs

The Black Rat Snake is primarily a forest animal, but it may wander into a variety of other habitats such as swamp borders, river flood plains, abandoned sawdust piles, rocky hillsides, mountain ledges, farm buildings, and abandoned dwellings. It can also climb trees and many Black Rat Snakes inhabit them.

Life Expectancy

Black Rat Snakes can live up to 20 years in the wild or in captivity.

Importance to Man

Black Rat Snakes benefit people by controlling mice around barns and country homes.

Fun Facts