Eastern Ratsnake Pantherophis alleghaniensis (Holbrook, 1836)    Synonyms: Black Rat Snake, Complex Pantherophis alleghaniensis, Eastern/Gray Ratsnake Complex, Gray Ratsnake, Pantherophis alleghaniensis Complex, Pantherophis obsoleta, Pantherophis spiloides.
Kingdom Animalia   >   Phylum Chordata   >   Class Reptilia   >   Order Squamata   >   Family Colubridae   >   Genus Pantherophis   

Status:

Taxonomy in the western part of the state is uncertain. Some taxonomists consider individuals in western Maryland to be Gray Ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides) (e.g., IUCN Red List). Wherever the boundary is, individuals found near it are probably best classified as Eastern/Gray Ratsnake complex. The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (page 192) and the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey have so far treated them as one species. Consulted local experts have noted a lack of morphological differences seen in examined specimens and the lack of DNA vouchers to establish the presence of Gray Ratsnake in Maryland. They expect that ultimately range lines will be used to sort these two taxa, and of course that will be easy to do from our collected point data. For now, MBP ingests records for Eastern, Gray, and Eastern/Gray Ratsnake Complex to this page.

The harmless and generally docile Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) is one of our most common and frequently encountered snakes. Maryland's largest snake species, it may reach an impressive size. Adults average 4.5 to 5.5 ft. in length (the rangewide record is 101 inches)(Conant & Collins, 1998). Eastern Ratsnakes may be found in virtually any non-urbanized habitat, including hardwood forests and edge habitats, agricultural areas, uplands and wetlands, and most other wooded habitats, provided there is a consistent rodent population. Ratsnakes are able climbers, and individuals may frequently be seen ascending tree in search of bird nests, or natural cavities to rest in (Tennant, 2003; Maryland DNR site). It is common throughout the state, though see the note on taxonomic uncertainty in western Maryland summarized above.

Relationships:

The Eastern Ratsnake is an excellent climber that preys upon small mammals, birds, and bird eggs. It is perhaps the most likely snake species to raid a nest box without a protective "baffle."

There are 612 records in the project database.

View taxon at iNaturalist

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An Eastern Ratsnake in Charles Co., Maryland (4/14/2019). Photo by Jim Moore. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Worcester Co., Maryland (10/6/2012). Photo by Mike Burchett. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Garrett Co., Maryland (5/26/2015). Photo by Mark Johnson. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Caroline Co., Maryland (8/21/2005). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (4/22/2018). Photo by Jakob Cackowski. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Garrett Co., Maryland (5/20/2013). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (4/22/2018). Photo by Jakob Cackowski. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (5/4/2014). Photo by Nancy Magnusson. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (5/28/2011). Photo by Nancy Magnusson. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (6/4/2017). Photo by Keith Eric Costley. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake eating a Green Frog in Caroline Co., Maryland (5/19/2015). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (5/1/2013). Photo by Benjamin DeHaven. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (7/22/2017). Photo by Kevin Heffernan. (MBP list)

A juvenile Eastern Ratsnake in Washington Co., Maryland (9/4/2017). Photo by Linda Lewis. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (3/10/2016). (c) Rin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by rinwolfe via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (3/28/2017). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/20/2015). (c) Frode Jacobsen, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Frode Jacobsen via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (7/9/2020). (c) emciapura, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by emciapura via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (8/8/2019). (c) Charlie Davis, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Charlie Davis. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Calvert Co., Maryland (5/22/2003). Photo by Tyler Bell. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore Co., Maryland (5/4/2008). (c) Frode Jacobsen, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Frode Jacobsen via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (10/24/2017). Photo by Anthony VanSchoor. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Frederick Co., Maryland (12/16/2017). Photo by Robert Warren. (MBP list)

A juvenile Eastern Ratsnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (6/28/2015). Photo by Bonnie Bell. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Charles Co., Maryland (7/2/2018). (c) Justin Lee, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Justin Lee via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (11/15/2020). (c) Michael J. W. Carr, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Michael J. W. Carr via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake and a Pileated Woodpecker declare a truce in Howard Co., Maryland (5/19/2015). Photo by Howard Patterson. (MBP list)

A juvenile Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (9/28/2019). (c) Judy Gallagher, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Judy Gallagher. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Carroll Co., Maryland (7/9/2015). (c) Matt Tillett, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by mtillett via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Frederick Co., Maryland (9/3/2021). (c) Scot Magnotta, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Scot Magnotta via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake hatching from an egg in Talbot Co., Maryland (10/6/2022). (c) cnicipo7, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by cnicipo7 via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Caroline Co., Maryland (4/13/2021). (c) tomfeild, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Tom Feild. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Charles Co., Maryland (6/18/2020). Photo by Julie Simpson. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Charles Co., Maryland (6/2/2019). Photo by Julie Simpson. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (9/26/2019). Photo by Ben Springer. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Frederick Co., Maryland (7/19/2022). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Wicomico Co., Maryland (8/31/2021). (c) Sialia Meadows/ Tara Holste, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Sialia Meadows/ Tara Holste via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Carroll Co., Maryland (10/7/2020). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Howard Co., Maryland (6/22/2017). Photo by Sue Muller. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (5/27/2021). (c) belyykit, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by belyykit via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Baltimore City, Maryland (5/26/2021). (c) pegamaleg, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by pegamaleg via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (7/1/2022). No rights reserved. Photo by jdshide via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (7/1/2022). No rights reserved. Photo by jdshide via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake with Eastern Cottontail prey in Wicomico Co., Maryland (11/15/2022). (c) tylerbaker96, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by tylerbaker96 via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

An Eastern Ratsnake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (4/20/2021). Photo by Marilyn Schiff. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Charles Co., Maryland (7/8/2020). (c) mmckinney-dyson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by mmckinney-dyson via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake molt in Howard Co., Maryland (6/18/2022). (c) Carla D’Anna, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by carladanna via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake molt in Howard Co., Maryland (6/18/2022). (c) Carla D’Anna, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by carladanna via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake molt in Howard Co., Maryland (6/18/2022). (c) Carla D’Anna, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by carladanna via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake molt in Howard Co., Maryland (6/18/2022). (c) Carla D’Anna, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by carladanna via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake shed skin in Garrett Co., Maryland (5/17/2022). (c) Alina Martin, some rights reserved (CC BY). Photo by Alina Martin via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Eastern Ratsnake in Worcester Co., Maryland (5/25/2019). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)


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