The common rat snake belongs to a group of three dozen rat snake species, which also includes corn snakes and fox snakes. This particular species is found across the eastern United States, from New England in the north to Texas, Nebraska and Wisconsin in the west. Common rats snakes are most abundant in the warmer parts of their range around the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast.
The common rat snake occurs in three colour forms: almost completely black; yellow with black stripes; and orange with black stripes.
The common rat snake lives in a variety of habitats, with each of the many subspecies being adapted to a particular habitat type. For example, black rat snakes are found in highland regions, while yellow rat snakes inhabit oak woodlands and human habitations.
Rat snakes do not inject their prey with venom, but kill them by constriction. When threatened, these snakes coil themselves up and rustle dead leaves with their tail to imitate a rattlesnake. They also spread a foul musk with their tail to further discourage any attacker.
Distribution: Eastern United States to Texas and Wisconsin.
Habitat: Grassland, forests and suburban areas.
Food: Small rodents and birds.
Size: 1.2 - 1.8 m (4 - 6 ft).
Breeding: 20 eggs laid in summer.
Life span: 20 years.