Rat Snake is a member of the Colubridae family, though there is a controversy on this genus factor. Found in the Northern Hemisphere, they are medium to large in size. They mainly feed on birds and rodents. And that’s one of the reasons behind this species popularity as a pet among the farmers. Some of them can be aggressive when approached closely but don’t give serious bites. And most of them are non-venomous, so no worries. The new species of Rat Snakes are widely found in North America, making them easily available as pets.
Types Of Rat Snakes
There are various types of Rat Snake species. Popular among them are Eastern/Black Rat Snake, Texas rat Snake, Yellow rat snake, Red Rat Snake, and Grey Rat Snakes. Black ones are the largest among them. Some have blotches or stripes while others can be a combination of both. They have slender bodies with wedge-shaped heads. Some of the species can be ten feet long, the average length being 4-6 ft.
- Eastern Rat Snake/Black rat Snake has a shiny black color with spotted pattern in grey, brown, yellow or white.
- Texas Rat Snakes can be 6ft long with yellowish or greyish skin and reddish-orange skin beneath the scales. It can be more than 70 inches long. Fond of eating mice and rodents.
- Yellow Rat Snake is commonly found in Florida. Covered with yellow or orange coloring with narrow brown stripes.
- Meanwhile, the Red Rat Snakes possess red marks on their back over their orange or yellowish bodies. They also bear dark blotches in their belly making them stunningly good-looking. A remarkable V-shaped mark is also found on their heads.
- Grey Rat Snake, the largest snake in Canada have gray skin with dark patches on their back and bellies.
Are They Venomous?
Earlier it is believed that Rat Snakes are non-venomous. But recent studies reveal that some species can be a little venomous but has negligible effects on humans. They usually hunt mice by biting and suffocate them to death.
Rat Snakes As Pets And Weather Impacts On Them
Rat Snakes are widely kept as pets in America, Corn Snake being the most popular. All snakes are dependent on the temperature of the environment they stay on. The warmer climate is appropriate and even global warming cannot affect their existence. An increase in both day and night temperatures is suitable for them to hunt by making them active at night. Warm climate enhances the digestion of rat snakes which makes them more efficient and helps in their size to increase. They are excellent climbers and prefer to spend time in trees.
Some species have negative impacts due to weather fluctuation like Eastern Rat Snakes. Their population can decrease due to weather impacts and that’s what is happening to the rat snakes living in the Northern range. Besides, their increased nocturnal activities make them vulnerable to a whole new range of predators. The worst part is, Rat Snakes are unaware of defending itself from this new range. And they need some time to get adapted to this new environment as well.
Rat Snakes require heat and sunlight to maintain body temperature. It varies from species to species. The average body temperature of Rat Snakes in Ontario maybe 28.1 degree Celsius. They need habitats such as bare ground or places full of trees and branches where they can bask in the sun. They prefer habitats in a rocky hillside and flat farmland. Habitat changing is invariably dependent on the temperature. Ontario snakes have comparatively slow growth due to cooler climate.
Behavioural Specification of Rat Snake
That depends on species to species. While some are shy some are aggressive too. You can get a foul-smelling musk when touched and spread it around with its tail. All species of them vibrate their tails which is kind of mimicry of rattlesnakes. Rat Snakes are often found in barns and also like the hollow trees as a shelter to look for prey. They are good swimmers and hibernate in winter.
Current Status Of Rat Snake
Some species of Rat Snakes are in the list of endangered ones now. Whereas Canadian Grey Rat Snakes are on the way of extinction due to habitat problem, Black rat Snakes from Massachusetts comes on the same list. Red Rat Snakes from Florida got the same label as well.