Interesting Facts about the Texas Rat Snake

A very striking snake, the Texas rat snake is found in a variety of colors and patterns. This Buzzle article brings some very interesting facts about this nonvenomous snake.
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Fact about the Texas rat snake
Chicken Snake!
The Texas rat snake loves to eat fledgling chickens and eggs. This fondness has earned it the name of "chicken snake."

The Texas rat snake is a subspecies of the rat snake. It is nonvenomous, mostly harmless, temperate-to-tropical terrestrial or an arboreal or aquatic snake. It is mostly found in the United States, particularly in Texas, but its range extends to Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma as well. It is found in various colors, and the leucistic Texas rat snake is popular as a pet as well.

Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri is its trinomial name. The name lindheimeri is used in honor of the German-American naturalist Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer. The first specimen was collected by him in New Braunfels, Texas.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Elaphe
Species: E. obsoleta
Subspecies: E. o. lindheimeri

Physical Features

It is a large snake, around 5 - 6 feet long. The largest recorded length is 7 ft 2 inches!
Although mostly it is yellow or tan in color with brown or olive green blotches, a lot of variation is seen in its colors and patterns.
Some snakes have orange or red speckling. Few specimens show leucism as well.

orange texas rat snake
Orange Texas Rat Snake
Although it demonstrates color variations, it is distinguished by its prominent gray head.
The underside is plain white or gray in color.

Habitat

It is found in a variety of habitats from swamps to forests, and from grasslands to even urban areas.
The presence of rodents and oakwood are major factors influencing the occurrence of this snake.

Other Interesting Facts

The Texas rattle snake is a voracious eater and has a huge appetite. It eats rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs.
It can reach nests of birds easily, as it is an agile climber.

texas rat snake in a bird's nest
Texas Rat Snake in a Bird's Nest
It has an average lifespan of 15 years. Males live longer than females.
It reaches sexual maturity in 18 to 24 months. It usually starts mating after winter hibernation in late April, May, and June.
The Texas rat snake is a very good swimmer.
It gets very aggressive and starts biting if provoked or cornered. But its bite is harmless, as it is nonvenomous.

As a Pet

leucistic texas rat snake
Leucistic Texas Rat Snake

The Texas rat snake is a hassle-free pet. All it requires is a clean habitat and proper diet.
Even people who are not much experienced in keeping reptile pets can easily take care of it.
Aquariums are ideal to keep it in captivity, but many other commercial options are available as well. The cage should be big enough for the snake to engage in natural activities. Make sure that you thoroughly clean the cage at proper intervals of time.
Other essentials are a climbing branch, clean water, thermal gradient, hiding place, and proper substrate.
Adult snakes should be fed weekly with one rodent.
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Published: August 6, 2014
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