Other common names

Gray Rat Snake, Oak Snake, White Oak Snake

Basic description

Most adult gray ratsnakes are about 42-72 inches (106-183 cm) in total length. Adults are light gray with darker gray blotches down the back. The belly is sandy-gray with dark square blotches. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults.

Range in Florida

In Florida, gray ratsnakes occur in the Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River. However, they do readily interbreed with eastern ratsnakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) in the area.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Gray 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

coiled snake showing black and red tongue
Photo courtesy of Noah Mueller.

Eastern ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) Non-venomous Eastern ratsnakes in the Panhandle look like gray ratsnakes as both juveniles and adults. However, adults in peninsular Florida might be yellow to gray with four dark longitudinal stripes, sometimes retaining the juvenile’s dark dorsal blotches.

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 on this profile.

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