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Gray Rat Snake

Pantherophis spiloides


Adult rat snakes are typically 3-5 ft (91-152 cm), but large individuals may be more than 6 ft (183 cm) long. The appearance of rat snakes varies greatly throughout the geographic range. Black rat snakes are more northern in distribution and are characteristically black on top with a faint hint of white between some of the scales. Yellow rat snakes are greenish, yellow, or orange with four dark stripes running the length of the body. Gray rat snakes are dark to light gray with darker gray or brown blotches. The juveniles of all subspecies resemble the gray rat. The belly is whitish in color near the head and becomes checkered or mottled toward the tail. The body cross section is loaf-shaped and not round. Rat snakes have weakly keeled scales and the anal plate is divided.


Rat snakes occupy a wide variety of habitats including rocky timbered hills, hardwood forests, river floodplains and swamp margins. They are commonly found in abandoned buildings and barns and are often the most common large snake in suburban areas.


This snake was on our front porch. Starlings nest in a hole in one of the porch pillars--in previous years this snake, or one just like it, crawled up the pillar and presumably ate the young Starlings. This one did not make it up the pillar.

1 Species ID Suggestions

Gray ratsnake

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alicelongmartin 11 years ago

Interesting story!

LisaPowers 11 years ago

Thanks for adding this to the Tennessee Snakes Mission! Ratsnakes are excellent climbers.

rutasandinas 11 years ago


LisaPowers 11 years ago

You are welcome. It is easy to confuse since they look more black than gray here.

NancyRyderKing 11 years ago

Thanks, Lisa! Corrections made.

KarenL 11 years ago

Nice spot! We get gray rat snakes in our yard too but I've never been lucky enough to have one on our front porch!

Spotted by

Tennessee, USA

Spotted on Apr 15, 2012
Submitted on Jun 6, 2012

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