Black Snakes in Texas?

Pantherophis obsoletus also known as the western rat snake, black rat snake, pilot black snake, or simply black snake[4] is a non-venomous species of Colubridae found in central North America. No subspecies are currently recognized.[5] Its color variations include the Texas ratsnake.[3] Along with other snakes of the eastern United States, like the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) or the eastern racer (Coluber constrictor), it is called ‘black snake’.

Aside from the usual variety that is black or has patches of black on a lighter background, color variations include
the Texas rat snake , a brown-to-black variant, often with tinges of orange or red, that can be found in southern Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. It prefers heavily wooded areas and is known for having excellent climbing ability, including the ability to climb the trunk of large mature trees without the aid of branches; the snake is also a competent swimmer.

This association gave rise to one of its common names, pilot black snake, and the superstition that this nonvenomous species led the venomous ones to the den. The record total length is 256.5 cm (8 ft 5 in), [10] making it (officially) the longest snake in North America . [ citation needed ] The body mass of this rat snake can range up to 0.5 to 2.2 kg (1.1 to 4.9 lb) in adults, although most adults are on the smaller end of this scale, per herpetology research sites, with weights most commonly between 0.77 and 1 kg (1.7 and 2.2 lb).

Juveniles are strongly patterned with brown blotches on a gray background (like miniature fox snakes: P. gloydi , P. ramspotti , and P. vulpinus ). Adults are glossy black above with white lips, chin, and throat. Sometimes traces of the “obsolete” juvenile pattern are still discernible in the skin between the scales, especially when stretched after a heavy meal.

If they feel further threatened, they may flee quickly or tail vibrate (potentially a form of mimicry , which makes them sound like rattlesnakes ). Utilizing its infamous agility and the great strength of its muscular coils, the black rat snake is sometimes able to overwhelm and kill formidable avian predators such as red-tailed hawks , great horned owls and red-shouldered hawks , though in many cases the bird is able to kill the snake and both combatants may even die. This species is a constrictor , meaning it squeezes its prey to the point of cardiovascular collapse due to obstructive shock, coiling around small animals and tightening its grip until they can no longer circulate blood and die of profound hypotension, before eating them.

Other prey opportunistically eaten by this species can include other snakes (including both those of their own and other species), frogs , lizards , chipmunks , squirrels , juvenile rabbits , juvenile opossums , songbirds , and bird eggs. The rat snake has been noted as perhaps the top predator at purple martin colonies as a single large snake will readily consume a number of eggs, hatchlings, and adults each summer. Several rat snake repelling methods have been offered to those putting up martin houses, but most are mixed in success.

Mating while climbing a treeMating takes place in late May and early June. However, Utiger et al. found that Elaphe is broadly construed as paraphyletic , and placed this species in the genus Pantherophis . He assigned new common names and resurrected old scientific names, resulting in the following combinations: eastern ratsnake ( Elaphe alleghaniensis , now Pantherophis alleghaniensis ), central ratsnake ( Elaphe spiloides , now Pantherophis spiloides ), and western rat snake ( Elaphe obsoleta , now Pantherophis obsoletus ).

Their size, calm temperament, and ease of care contribute to this popularity and they also occur in many mutations such as leucistic , albino , and scaleless. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition . ^ Eastern Ratsnake Archived 2017-05-06 at the Wayback Machine , Herps of Texas ^ a b Species profile: Minnesota DNR .

A Field Guide to the Snakes of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains . A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition . mass.gov ^ Fact Sheet at Smithsonian National Zoological Park Website Archived 2016-08-25 at the Wayback Machine .

^ Black snake profile at Smithsonian National Zoological Park website Archived 2016-08-25 at the Wayback Machine . “Molecular Systematics and Phylogeny of Old and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe Auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae)” (PDF) . ^ Elaphe obsoleta Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine at The Center for North American Herpetology .

“Neogene diversification and taxonomic stability in the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes: Colubridae)”. ^ Gibbs HL, Corey SJ, Blouin-Demers G, Prior KA, Weatherhead PJ (2006). “An alternative classification of the New World Rat Snakes (genus Pantherophis [Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae])”.

What kind of snake is just black?

If you’ve got black snakes around your house, chances are they’re one of two types: North American rat snakes or black racers. Both are nonvenomous, with white or grayish bellies, and eat mostly rodents and other small animals.

Are black snakes poisonous?

Black Snake Bites. The black snake is not venomous and most species aren’t known to be aggressive, but if they feel threatened, they will bite. Rat snakes are excellent swimmers, so their first choice is to flee.

What should I do if I see a black snake?

What should you do if you see a black snake? The best thing to do is to just let it be. Take a photo, draw a quick sketch, or just sit back and enjoy it from afar. The snake doesn’t want to interact; it just wants to go on its way.

This guide was created for the members of “Southeast Texas Snake ID” which is an educational group on Facebook dedicated to providing quick identifications and a better understanding of snakes and the importance of their role in our ecosystem. Unlike the photo albums in the group, this …more

When one thinks of spiders, scorpions, or especially centipedes, those thoughts are usually not synonymous with lunch. However, there is a minute and nondescript species of serpent that resides in this state that does just that, and that species is the plains black-headed snake.

Next on the list of most feared snakes is the cottonmouth, or water moccasin. Ranging in color from a splotchy gray to nearly black, it is commonly found around swampy, slow-water terrain and habitat.

Coachwhip A slender, mostly light brown to tan snake that will kill and eat rattlesnakes, it doesnt attack people by whipping their legs, as folklore suggests.

Geographic range[edit]

Aside from the usual variety that is black or has patches of black on a lighter background, color variations include the Texas rat snake, a brown-to-black variant, often with tinges of orange or red, that can be found in southern Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.

Habitat[edit]

Rat snakes live in a variety of habitats; some overlap each other. Rat snakes are excellent climbers and spend time in trees. They live in habitats ranging from a rocky hillside to flat farmland.

Preferred habitat[edit]

It prefers heavily wooded areas and is known for having excellent climbing ability, including the ability to climb the trunk of large mature trees without the aid of branches; the snake is also a competent swimmer. During winter it hibernates in dens, often with copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. This association gave rise to one of its common names, pilot black snake, and the superstition that this nonvenomous species led the venomous ones to the den.

Description[edit]

Adults ofJuveniles are strongly patterned with brown blotches on a gray background (like miniature fox snakes:

Common names[edit]

Other common names include: black chicken snake, black coluber, chicken snake, mountain black snake, mountain pilot snake, pilot, rat snake, rusty black snake, scaly black snake, cow snake,

Behavior[edit]

When not fully grown, rat snakes are subject to predation by many animals, including other snakes. Once they attain maturity, they are readily preyed on by mammalian carnivores (including the American mink, which weighs no more than an adult rat snake) and large birds of prey (especially red-tailed hawks).

Feeding[edit]

This species is a constrictor, meaning it squeezes its prey to the point of cardiovascular collapse due to obstructive shock, coiling around small animals and tightening its grip until they can no longer circulate blood and die of profound hypotension, before eating them. Though they will often consume mice, voles, and rats, western rat snakes are far from specialists at this kind of prey and will readily consume any small vertebrate they can catch. Other prey opportunistically eaten by this species can include other snakes (including both those of their own and other species), frogs, lizards, chipmunks, squirrels, juvenile rabbits, juvenile opossums, songbirds, and bird eggs.

Reproduction[edit]

Mating takes place in late May and early June. The male snake wraps its tail around the female with their vents nearly touching. The male then everts one of its sex organs, a hemipenis, into the female sex organ, cloaca. The mating lasts a few minutes to a few hours. After five weeks, the female lays about 12 to 20 eggs, which are 36–60 mm (1.4–2.4 in) long by 20–26.5 mm (0.79–1.04 in) wide. The eggs hatch about 65 to 70 days later in late August to early October.

Taxonomy[edit]

This species has previously been placed (and is still placed by many) in the genusIn 2001, Burbrink suggested this species be divided into three species based on geographic patterns of mitochondrial DNA diversity. He assigned new common names and resurrected old scientific names, resulting in the following combinations: eastern ratsnake (In 2008, Collins and Taggart

In captivity[edit]

Western rat snakes are popular as pets. Their size, calm temperament, and ease of care contribute to this popularity and they also occur in many mutations such as leucistic, albino, and scaleless. They enjoy hiding and burrowing which is usually accommodated with a loose substrate (such as aspen wood shavings or newspaper) and one or more hide boxes. Captive rat snakes are generally fed killed or stunned mice because captive-bred mice reduce the risk of exposing the snake to pathogens or live prey-induced injuries.