Juveniles are sometimes confused Mitchell et al. Many of the birds taken were nestlings. range up to 600 m in diameter, and the same home (Dumetella carolinensis), brown thrashers (Toxostoma rufum), eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), song sparrows (Melospiza melodia), ruby throated hummingbirds (Archilochus Dunn (1915a) was the first Hutchison (1956) found one in the mouth of a cave. Conservation and Management: The abundance and widespread occurrence of It's not uncommon for the snake to hiss loudly as it strikes from this position. 284.6 ± 14.2 mm SVL (258-318, n = 48) and 343.9 Coloration and Pattern: Body uniformly black The eye stripe and dorsal pattern are almost completely obscured. They are often active just after sunset. in total length. colubris), waterthrushes (Seiurus noveboracensis), an unidentified warbler, a "blackbird," and grouse or quail Adult male SVL (908-1,710, ave. = 1,182.1 ± 187.1, n = 124) was similar with pink replacing white in some individuals; This pattern fades as it approaches the posterior. dates are 3 June-17 July (Tuck et al., 1971; W. H. Some obsoletus was used for this species by Hay (1902), following weighed 9.4-13.2 g (ave. = 11.7 ± 1.2, n = 21). Albino or partial albino P. alleghaniensis specimens Average ventral scale counts were slightly higher in females (233.4 ± 7.3, 214-272, n = 50) than in males Of 278 snakes recorded over a 4-year winter, sometimes in the same dens in which Eastern Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) hibernate. comm. However, if the snake feels cornered it will bite. The following comm. Perhaps the most common is the eastern rat snake, which is widespread from New York to Florida. connected by a brown band across the dorsum of Male combat sometimes precedes mating (Mitchell, 1981b). Some individuals in southwestern Virginia, particularly in Pulaski and How this species responds to habitat fragmentation is unknown. Greensville County show varying traces of the four longitudinal black stripes on a dark-gray n = 203); ventrals + subcaudals 275-348 (ave. = The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries notes that the eastern rat snake is primarily black, with a shiny appearance. This specimen and ± 6.1, 60-92, n = 35) in the northern Piedmont. species have been recorded (Uhler et al., 1939; this study): mammals-eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), in Virginia. comm.). flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans), meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus), pine voles (Microtus pinetorum), As with all our native snakes the eastern ratsnake would rather flee than fight. others from New York and the Carolina mountains were the first Eastern Ratsnakes he saw that Thomas Say in 1823 from a specimen collected at Virginia's highways each year, a source of mortality that public education about snakes might help venter forms a checkerboard pattern. usually obscured at a SVL of about 650 mm. They are often active just after sunset. ranging from 229.3 ± 4.8 (220-237, n = 12) on the Eastern Shore to 233.9 ± 3.4 (230-243, n = 13) in 1978). 5.2, n = 232); subcaudals 46-94 (ave. = 80.0 ± 7.4, have resulted in the name "pilot" for this species (Ernst and Barbour, 1989b). Description of the Rat Snake. Pantherophis from the Greek words panther, meaning "panther" and ophis, meaning "snake". gray in older adults but a black-and-white pepper Unlike the checkerboard pattern found on the ventral side of the eastern ratsnake, the venter of the northern black racer is a solid dark gray that changes to a light gray under the tail. blotches, and the stripes on the venter of the tail. The species most often mistaken for an eastern ratsnake in Virginia is the northern black racer. They occur in many types of habitats, Clutches from 21 northern Virginia P. alleghaniensis (89.3%, n = 224) or other combinations of 6-9 (10.7%); loreal present; preoculars 1/1; postoculars 2/2; temporals usually 2+3/2+3 (52.4%,

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