Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a Texas Rat Snake!

I have a positive identification on my snakey visitor! According to Clint the Snake Man ( our friend is a Texas rat snake and non-venomous. They will bite, and bite hard, if they feel threatened, but this one obviously didn't feel too threatened by me or it would have reared up. Apparently, they raise the front third of their body like a rattler, hiss, shake their tail like a rattler, and snap with a hard bite. I'll give him his space in the future, but I do hope he returns. They are known as snakes with an attitude!

These snakes can get as long as eight feet, and after looking closer at my pictures, I suspect that my original estimates of the length of this creature were a bit short and that it was possibly as much as five feet long.

Rat snakes are also known as chicken snakes because they sneak into chicken coops and eat the chickens. They generally eat rodents, though, and we have plenty around here, which may explain why I only see the mouse on my bedroom patio at night. He probably waits for the rat snake to go to bed!

The Texas rat snake also eats lizards and frogs, and I suspect this is why the toad and frog population has been a bit low this year. I have seen more snakes around our house in the past six months than I have seen in my entire life!

Although our snake is black and gray, many rat snakes have lots of color on them, which can make it difficult to distinguish them from venomous snakes. They even have albino and orange snakes in this area! Unfortunately, many people capture these snakes and keep them as pets. I hope this one lives a long, happy life in the wild and he is welcome to come back and visit, though I do hope he leaves the other little creatures around here alone!

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