Yellow Rat Snake

Suffolk County snake

Rat Snakes are a large group of snakes which have been dubbed because of the fact that they generally feed on rats and other rodents, and as the name suggests this particular variant is yellow in color. These snakes have a relatively large population, and have been known to be native in the United States for many centuries. The Yellow Rat Snake (or Coelognathus Flavolineatus) was originally identified in 1837, and many people will see their benefit in terms of reducing the rodent population and calm nature towards humans as outweighing the negatives.

Appearance And Diet
The Yellow Rat Snake is quite a large snake when compared with most species in the United States, with adults ranging from four to six feet in length. The main yellow color is actually to be found on the underside of the snake, with most visible parts of this rat snake being orange and brown. The upper half of the snake will usually be orange or amber in color, with dark brown stripes running down the body of the snake, and the snake’s head is in proportion with the rest of the body.

As the name suggests, the Yellow Rat Snake is best known for eating rodents, but can actually eat almost any type of small animal that it can catch. Because they are normally comfortable in the branches of trees as well as on the grounds of the forest floor, they can eat a wide ranging diet, and do actually constrict their prey before consumption. The largest snakes in this species have been known to eat grey squirrels and even birds.

Behavior And Habitat
The Yellow Rat Snake is generally active in the evenings and at nights, and will usually find cover during the day. On the rare occasions when they do encounter people, they are generally quite shy and will rarely strike unless they are cornered and have very little alternative. When they are threatened they will usually take an aggressive stance as though they are ready to pounce, and are also known to emit a strongly smelling musk.

Because of their preference for habitats which have plenty of high areas to climb looking for prey, the Yellow Rat Snake is generally to be found in wooded areas, with a particular preference of oak and cypress woodland. Their climbing ability is one of the best in the snake family, and can often be found in high branches up to sixty feet away from the ground hunting for prey. They are generally found in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, but have been found further afield as well.

Reproduction And Growth Cycle
The snakes will generally mate from late April through until the end of June, and the females will then lay her eggs in a nest made of a rotted log around 35 days after mating. These eggs will usually be laid in a clutch of between twelve and twenty, and are oblong in shape. They will then take around two and a half months before hatching, which will usually be towards the end of the summer.

When they emerge from the egg they will usually be between eleven and seventeen inches in length, and will usually feed on small frogs, lizards and rodents as they grow. Unlike the adults of the species, juveniles will not have the established brown stripes running the length of the body, rather they will have blotches and patches of color, and will usually be a light grey in color rather than the yellow in their name. The gender of the snake is usually decided by the temperature of the nest, with warmer temperatures leading to a higher proportion of males, and vice versa. Go back to the home page: Snakes of Suffolk County