Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Colubridae

Subfamily: Colubrinae


The Female rat snake can lay between 6 and 24 eggs sometime in mid to late July. The females put a significant amount of their total body weight (up to one third of their mass!) into the production of these eggs. The number of eggs produced is directly related to the size of the female. A female is capable of reproducing only once every two or three years in cold climate zones but possibly every year in more moderate regions. The eggs are deposited under logs, in compost, manure or sawdust piles, and in hollow trees. Females about to lay eggs are found in the ecotone components of their habitats more frequently than are non-gravid females. These ecotone habitats are very complexly structured and provide not only abundant ovipositional sites, but also a range of warm basking sites and cool shady sites for the gravid female to use while maintaining her delicate and important thermoregulation balance. The eggs take anywhere from 37 to 51 days to develop and hatch, 12 inches long snakes emerge from eggs during September. Young snakes look like miniature version of adults. They need to fend for themselves from the moment of birth.

Natural History

Rat snakes are medium-to-large, nonvenomous snakes that kill by constriction. They pose no threat to humans. There are Old World (Eastern Hemisphere) and New World (Western Hemisphere) rat snakes, and the two types are fairly different genetically. New World rat snakes are found throughout North America. As their name implies, rats are one of their favorite foods.


Jessie Szalay,, 2016