Species group: Corn and Rat Snakes
Other common names: Chicken Snake
Scientific name: Pantherophis alleghaniensis
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
Big, Active, Beautiful Ratsnakes
An adult, wild-caught yellow rat snake was one of my first sizable reptiles and, after a lifetime or working in some of the world’s best-known zoos, tese attractive creatures remain great favorites. Whether in my own collection or the zoo exhibits I designed, this snake’s size, unique colors, and semi-arboreal lifestyle always drew attention.
Unfortunately, changing land use patterns in south Florida have brought it into contact with the rarer Everglades ratsnake, with which it readily inter-breeds. Friends within its range tell me that “pure” wild examples of the glades ratsnake are now scarce.
Yellow ratsnakes are quite hardy and adaptable. Their care is as for any American ratsnake – just be sure to plan for a sizable enclosure, as they may reach 6 feet in length, and love to climb. Individual temperaments vary, and as with all snakes they must be handled with care. Their appetite knows no bounds – years ago, a Bronx Zoo co-worker found a large individual attempting to swallow a newly-born white-tailed deer!.
From findiviglio Jan 23 2016 9:31PM
Wild caught yellow rat snake
I bought one of these snakes at a reptile show. It was wild caught from south Georgia, and while I normally didn't buy wild caught snakes, I couldn't pass this one up at $20. The snake was full grown and very attractive, although it did have that wild snake odor that captive bred snakes don't have.
The snake did fine when I brought him home, but I soon learned that he didn't care to be handled much, so he spent most of his time in his terrarium. He didn't mind when I cleaned his cage out, but after he was fed (1 rat every other week), he was extremely aggressive.
After almost a year with no mishaps, he finally managed to escape from his terrarium. He made it all the way downstairs and into the kitchen before I found him wrapped around a broomstick. I used my snake hook to capture him, because he became aggressive when I tried to handle him. After that, I decided to give him to a friend who had a larger home for him. I don't care much for aggressive snakes, so I felt it was best to give him away. Needless to say, I never bought another wild caught snake after that..
From Southernemma Sep 16 2013 12:09PM