Because the gray ratsnake shares its range with other members of its genus, hybrids of midlands x eastern ratsnakes are not uncommon. The gray ratsnake may be found in the southern two-thirds of Illinois. Adult racers are uniformly black, blue or gray whereas Black Kingsnakes have scattered white speckling. The gray ratsnake averages 42 to 72 inches in length. Identification. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN. [6], For the species known as Gray's rat snake, see, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T90069659A90069671.en, Species at Risk Public Registry – Species Profile (Gray Ratsnake), Gray ratsnake, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Gray ratsnake, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Keeping Georgia Wildlife as Pets,, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 10 October 2020, at 20:46. State of Illinois Coronavirus Response Site. Despite this proclivity for climbing, they are commonly found in old fields and around barns and junkyards, where they seek shelter and food (rodents) under sheet metal, boards, and even in old pieces of furniture. Gray Ratsnake Gray Ratsnake, Pantherophis spiloides. Third Edition, Expanded. The gray ratsnake or gray rat snake (Pantherophis spiloides), also commonly known as the central ratsnake, chicken snake, midland ratsnake, or pilot black snake, is a species of nonvenomous snake in the genus Pantherophis in the subfamily Colubrinae. Burbrink, F. T., R. Lawson, and J. If handled, it will musk a victim by releasing the foul-smelling contents of its cloaca, and will bite if necessary. The gray ratsnake feeds on birds and  small mammals, particularly rodents. Within its range, almost any environment rich in rodents, and vertical escape options, proves a suitable habitat for the gray ratsnake. Eggs hatch from late July to September. Dorsal color is usually black spackled with bits of white between scales and having a light throat. The scales in the middle rows along the back are weakly keeled (ridged) while the remaining scales are smooth. This is probably the most widely known and familiar of Indiana's "black snakes", despite the fact that most individuals are not uniformly black. A medium to large serpent, the gray ratsnake typically reaches an adult size of 99–183 cm (3.25–6.00 ft) total length (including tail); however, the record is 247 cm (8.10 ft) for a captive specimen at the Ridley 4-H Center in Tennessee. These snakes also have a distinctive "bread loaf" body that is domed on top and flat on the bottom. Gray Ratsnakes are found throughout Indiana, but are absent from the sand prairies of northwestern Indiana. When startled, the gray ratsnake, like other ratsnakes, stops and remains motionless with its body held in a series of wave-like kinks. The gray ratsnake or gray rat snake (Pantherophis spiloides), also commonly known as the central ratsnake, chicken snake, midland ratsnake, or pilot black snake, is a species of nonvenomous snake in the genus Pantherophis in the subfamily Colubrinae. Russian Journal of Herpetology 9:105-124. Morphs are selectively bred for in captivity. The black rat snake is more common in north Alabama, while the gray rat snake is more common in the south. [3] The gray ratsnake is one of about ten species within the American ratsnake genus Pantherophis. Juvenile Gray Ratsnakes are very similar to juvenile [nerodia_sipedon|Northern Watersnake]], but have much weaker keels on each scale and have a dark bar connecting the eyes. For many years, North American ratsnakes were placed in the genus Elaphe, but Utiger et al. With age, Gray Ratsnakes become darker with some individuals turning almost entirely black. Females reach sexual maturity at 7–9 years of age[6]. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY. [8] The gray ratsnake is listed federally in Canada as "endangered" (Carolinean population) and "threatened" (Great Lakes/St Lawrence population). These snakes have dark gray blotches on their back, and they have a grayish coloring in general, their bellies also have these dark grey blotches. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. However, in the northern part of its range it is black in adulthood, like P. alleghaniensis and P. obsoletus. B. Slowinski. Juveniles are light gray with black bands and this pattern is retained, though most often heavily obscured, in adults. Lawrence region in the southeast.[4][5][6]. Of all aforementioned species, Gray Ratsnakes are the only one likely to be found climbing in trees or scaling buildings; with the exception of racers which occasionally climb into low shrubs. Burbrink et al. This is one of the most characteristic species of eastern forests and it is ubiquitous throughout the state. This is also the most arboreal snake in the state and spends much of its time in hollow trees and climbing through forest canopies. (2000) and Burbrink (2001) suggested that what was once considered a single, wide-ranging species of ratsnake in the eastern United States was likely multiple species. Mating occurs in April or June. This snake lives in rocky hillsides, woodlands, thickets, old fields, barnyards and farm land. An alternative classification of the New World Rat Snakes (genus Pantherophis [Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae]). The snake will also rattle its tail against whatever it is lying on, making an audible buzzing sound. Active by day except in hot weather, the rat snake climbs readily into trees. However, the gray ratsnake is less likely to bite than other members of its genus,[citation needed] and wounds from a bite rarely require more than a small bandage. Herpetological Monographs:1-53.

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