Yellow Rat Snake

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Is the Yellow Rat Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Chicken Snake

Scientific name: Pantherophis alleghaniensis

The basics:
Yellow Rat Snakes are seen along the coastal regions of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, all the way south to the Florida Keys. They inhabit pastures, citrus groves, hardwood hammocks, pine scrubs and flatlands, marshes, and swamps. They are sometimes seen in abandoned residential areas.

Appearance / health:
Yellow Rat Snakes are large constrictors growing up to about 5 feet in length. As juveniles, the coloration is black blotches against a gray body color. As adults, the blotches fuse to form four broad dark longitudinal stripes against a greenish to yellowish body color (hence the name). Northern range snakes have poorly defined dark stripes, central range snakes have well-defined greenish brown to black stripes, and southern range snakes have lighter, narrower stripes. The belly is mostly light yellow, sometimes with dark stripes and blotches. Scales are almost smooth; pupil is round. Yellow Rat Snakes interbred with Black Rat Snakes results in a dark green body color with both stripes and blotches. With the Everglades Rat Snake, the result is a bright yellow body color with faint orange blotches.

Behavior / temperament:
Like most rat snakes, the Yellow Rat Snake is non-venomous and slow moving. They are arboreal, often seen climbing trees to prey on birds and nest eggs. They are sometimes seen in the daytime, but they actively hunt and feed from dusk t dawn. As pets, they tend to be calm, but will bite when startled or threatened.

A 20-gallon woodland terrarium would be the smallest cage an adult Yellow Rat Snake should have. The cage must have sufficient ground-level hiding places and elevated perches and climbing branches, as well as a basking area and a large shallow fresh water dish. Substrate must be quick drying and clean-ups should be done regularly to prevent disease. Day temp: 82-88F; night temp: 72-75F

Captive Yellow Rat Snakes can be handled but very gently and loosely, and only a few days after it has eaten. It may bite when startled. The Yellow Rat Snake’s lifespan is estimated at 20 years.

Yellow Rat Snakes are also called “Chicken Snakes” because aside from the usual carnivorous diet of rodents, frogs, and lizards, they also tend to prey on chickens and their eggs. Captive-hatched Yellow Rat Snakes can be taught to eat thawed pinky mice. Rat snakes tend to regurgitate large prey; therefore, they should be fed meals that are no bigger than the size of their head.

Yellow Rat Snakes are egg-layers, mating in the spring. The clutch of 6 to 25 eggs hatches in late summer.


great starter snake, excellent eaters, terrific snakes, beautiful powerful snakes


wild caught snakes, aggression, aggressive rat snake, little high strung, musk


good snake bedding

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