Other common names

Eastern Rat Snake, Rat Snake, Chicken Snake, Yellow Ratsnake, Everglades Ratsnake

Basic description

Most adult eastern ratsnakes are about 42-72 inches (106-183 cm) in total length. This species is variable in coloration, but juveniles are gray with dark blotches. In the Panhandle, juveniles and adults look alike. However, adults in the Florida peninsula can be yellow, orange, tan, or gray with four dark longitudinal stripes, while sometimes retaining the dark dorsal blotches found in juveniles.

Range in Florida

In Florida, eastern ratsnakes occur in the Panhandle east of the Apalachicola River and throughout the peninsula south to Key Largo. However, they do readily interbreed with gray ratsnakes (Pantherophis spiloides) in the Panhandle.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Eastern ratsnakes are not dangerous to people or pets, but they will readily bite to defend themselves. These snakes are not aggressive and avoid direct contact with people and pets. Virtually all bites occur when the snakes are intentionally molested.

Comparison with other species

Gray ratsnake
Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Gray ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides) Non-venomous Gray ratsnakes look like juvenile eastern ratsnakes and are found west of the Apalachicola River.

Eastern cornsnake
Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.

Red Cornsnake (Pantherophis guttatus) Non-venomous Juvenile red cornsnakes are brownish-red with a black and white checkerboard patterned belly.

Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback about this profile.

Banner photo courtesy of Noah Mueller. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.