Snake of Most Concern - The Juvenile Eastern Ratsnake

2010 VHS Snake Identifications

The Virginia Herpetological Society receives many request each year for snake identifications. The vast majority (44%) of the snakes we are asked to identify turn-out to be harmless, juvenile, eastern ratsnakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis). The eastern ratsnake also known as the black rat snake is found statewide in Virginia and has adapted well to an existence around people and the rodents human activity attracts.

In Virginia the eastern ratsnake is active from early April to early December. During early June and mid-July gravid females lay an average clutch size of 19 eggs. In late August to late September the eggs hatch. The vast majority of neonates will not survive their first winter, falling victim to the weather and/or predators.

Juvenile Eastern Ratsnakes:

Young eastern ratsnakes have a very discernible dorsal pattern which usually fades to a uniformed black as the snake reaches 30 inches (760 mm).
Note the eye stripe.
This 24 inch (650mm) subadult specimen has lost much of its juvenile pattern
This highly agitated specimen is showing its black and white checkerboard ventral pattern.
An adult Eastern Ratsnake.

For additional information on the Eastern Ratsnake see:

To view our online Snake Identification pages see:


The Virginia Herpetological Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Copyright © 1958 - Virginia Herpetological Society. All rights reserved.