Black Rat Snake - Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta


Green Lane, United States

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Artist's Description

Black rat snakes are a boon to our natural environment. They eat small mammals, their favorite foods being mice and rats, but they will also dine on lizards, frogs, and bird eggs. Although they have teeth, rat snakes are non-venomous constrictors.

There are a number of sub-species of rat snake, and they have a wide range. Some are more passive than others, and we find our population is generally calm with the occasional cranky individual.

This snake has a story. My husband found it in the woods behind our house. It had some sort of plastic mesh around it’s body which was cutting badly into the snake’s flesh. My husband caught it, I held it, and he “operated” by delicately cutting and removing the embedded mesh. When I let it go, the snake crawled into a stone pile. Although the wound looked mean, it was clean. We hope to see it next year and confirm it healed and is living a healthy life.

The black snakes in our locale regularly reach five to six feet in length, will climb trees, and come into our cellar to shed. They are our “genius loci” (spirit of the place) – here when we moved in over 40 years ago and still here.

I took this picture on November 14, 2011, in Green Lane, PA, just before our patient was caught and tended to. It was about 5 feet long and still has the appearance of a young-ish snake. The mesh was abut 1/3 of the down the body.


For an interesting write up on Black Rat Snakes, take a look at

Artwork Comments

  • Ray Clarke
  • reflector
  • MotherNature
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