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Black rat snake
Common Name:

Black rat snake

Scientific Name:

Elaphe obsoleta

Unique Qualities:

The black rat snake is the largest Canadian snake, growing up to 2.5 m in length. They are excellent climbers and are probably one of the few arboreal (tree-dwelling) snakes. Juvenile black rat snakes are marked with a black and white pattern but adult black rat snakes are completely black.

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Can be Seen:

They can be seen in all of the eastern U.S., west as far as southern Minnesota, south through central Texas. In Canada, they are found only in Ontario.

Likes to Hang Out:

Rat snakes can be seen in farm fields, hardwood forests, rocky hillsides, swamps, marsh edges.

Likes to Eat:

It feeds largely on mice, rats, and some birds, and it can quickly suffocate its prey by constricting it within the tight coils of its body.


The black rat snake is listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Major threats include the removal of fallen trees and jumbles of rock-areas that snakes use to hibernate. Also, humans often illegally kill snakes.

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