Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)
  Nonpoisonous

Description: Adults typically shiny black; may show traces of a blotched or spotted pattern; skin between scales may be white, yellow, or red; Juveniles have 29-32 blotches along the body. As the snake matures, black pigment obscures the pattern.

Habitat: Rocky wooded hillsides areas near creeks and rivers.

Size: Typical adult length: 107-183 cm (42-72 in); Maximum: 75 inches.

Diet: Lizards, snakes, frog, birds eggs, small birds and mice; kills by constriction.

Natural History: One of the largest snake found in Nebraska. The Rat Snakes hunts by day except in the hottest days of summer. While it normally hunts on the ground the rat snake is a good climber and can be found hunting in trees where it often plunders eggs in bird's nests. When approached the rat snake may vibrate its tail in alarm. If handled this snake often strikes and bites.

Living up to its name the Black Rat Snake consumes large numbers of rodents and is considered beneficial. However common names don't always hold true. This snake is also referred to as the Pilot Blacksnake here in Nebraska. The myth was that rat snakes would guide rattlesnakes back to their dens in the fall (pilot meaning guide).

Similar species:

  1. Common Kingsnake has light spots in middle of scales, Black Rat Snakes have light skin between dark scales or scales edged with light color.