ANIMAL: Eastern/Black Rat Snake Pantherophis alleghaniensis Type of Animal: Colubrid Habitat: Fields, woodlands, forests, farmland, suburban areas, rocky hillsides, deciduous forest surrounded by grassland, forested wetlands, isolated urban woodlots, thickets adjacent to forests, backyards, attics, edge habitats, early successional habitats, agricultural areas, barns, old/abandoned buildings, cave mouths, piedmont, mountainous areas, rocky timbered hills, river floodplains, swamps/swamp margins, grassland, savanna, old woodpecker holes, meadows, marshes, stream valleys, mammal burrows, old rock quarries, urban areas, hilly areas, chicken houses, old houses, rocky outcrops, riversides, streamsides Location(s): E US & tiny part of SE Canada Appearance: Shiny black w/ cream to white chin/throat, irregular black/white checkerboard patterned belly, slate gray around tail, juveniles have dark dorsal blotches on grayish ground color, same belly pattern as adults Food/Diet: Rodents, moles, shrews, rabbits, bats, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes (including of own species), young opossums, insects Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding in zoos, herpetoculture, & private breeders Lifestyle: Solitary or small groups of 2-10 snakes Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young: Snakelet Group: Den Weight: Male: 4 lbs Female: 3.5 lbs Gestation: 2 months Life Span: 15 years Body Length: Male: 6.65 ft Female: 6.18 ft Young: 2.5 ft Tail Length: 1.55 ft, same for both sexes Main predators of adults are other snakes (including larger individuals of own species), alligators, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raptors, bears, snapping turtles, otters, & pigs. Raccoons & skunks prey on young. These snakes nonvenomous, killing prey by constriction. Females produce clutches of 4-25 eggs a year & can produce 2 clutches in good years. They hibernate in winter, often w/ other snake species as well as w/ each other. They have wide range of temperaments, from docile to very aggressive. They’re excellent climbers. Sexually mature at 4 years old. They communicate using pheromones. Adults sometimes mistaken for smaller black racers. Fun Fact(s): Adult snakes only eat once or twice a month, juveniles typically eat once a week. They’ll often freeze & stay motionless if provoked. Often, they’ll release foul-smelling musk on predators/threats. Very beneficial since they eat lots of rodents. However, they do eat small chickens, leading it to be called Chicken Snake. Sometimes called Black Pilot Snake/Pilot Snake due to superstition that it led venomous snakes to hibernation den. Juveniles sometimes mistaken for venomous copperheads, & therefore killed.