NC Snake Pictures / Rat Snake

Elaphe obsoleta


Nonvenomous; adult size 42-103 inches (1,067 to 2,159 mm); common
distribution map
Distribution key: blue=where snake is found

Rat snakes feed on rats, mice, birds, and other reptiles. The young snakes are patterned and frequently find their way into buildings. These juvenile snakes are frequently misidentified as copperheads, to which they bear only a slight resemblance. Note the juvenile pictures beneath the adult pictures. Rat Snakes vary greatly in color in different areas of North Carolina, but the two most common adult colors are black with a spotted gray and white belly, and greenish-yellow with four brown or black stripes the length of its body. More rare colors include an irridescent (reflects light) black that looks blue, and gray and black spotted.

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Black ratsnake yellow ratsnake
Elaphe obsoleta
E. obsoleta quadrivittata
common black rat snake
photo by Peter May
irridescent black ratsnake gray ratsnake
Elaphe obsoleta
E. obsoleta spiloides
irridescent black rat snake
photo by Troy Hibbitt
juvenile ratsnake juvenile ratsnake
juvenile black rat snake
juvenile yellow rat snake
photo by
photo by Peter May