Eastern Rat Snake

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Pantherophis obsoletus

DIETMice, eggs, lizard, frogs, chipmunks

RANGEFrom New England south to Georgia and West to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin

HABITATTrees, rocky hillsides, farmland

Eastern Rat Snake

NOTE: Education Animals are “behind-the-scenes” animals & only appear to the public during Educational events. This includes scheduled events or programs such as daily animal mingles, private onsite programs, and zoo reaches. For more information, please reach out to edureservations@lvzoo.org.

Physical Description

Eastern rat snakes are nonvenomous snakes that can grow to be 3-7 feet long. Their backs will have black scales while their bellies will have lighter colored scales often in a checkerboard pattern.


Some of their predators include hawks, great horned owls, and free-ranging domestic cats.


They have been known to live an average of 10-30 years.


Breeding occurs from May to June with egg-laying occurring in June or July. The female will lay 5-19 eggs which will hatch in 60-65 days.

Fun Facts

  • Eastern rat snakes are the most commonly seen snakes in Virginia.
  • This species is both terrestrial and arboreal, will hibernate underground or in deep crevices, and are even able to swim.

Conservation Messaging

In our Reptile and Amphibian (RAD) center you will find many different reptiles and amphibians including venomous and poisonous species of snakes and frogs. Many of these animals fall victim to habitat loss in the wild. Many of the species here are found in South American habitats which are subjected to deforestation, damming of rivers, water pollution, and poor agricultural and management practices.

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