Eastern Ratsnake

(Pantherophis alleghaniensis)


Common Name:
Eastern Ratsnake (AKA Black Rat Snake)

Scientific Name: Pantherophis alleghaniensis

Reptiles Alive Name: “Rachel”

Hisssstory: Rachel was a professor’s pet at Marymount University in Arlington VA. He donated Rachel to Reptiles Alive in October 2009.

RA Diet: Rachel likes to eat frozen mice and rats that are thawed and warmed before she eats them.

Natural Diet: Ratsnakes dine on eggs, small mammals, birds, and lizards.

Range: Ratsnakes are found in the eastern United States from New York to Florida and west to the Great Plains. Eastern ratsnakes are the largest native snake in the DC metro area.

Habitat: Ratsnakes live in forests, farmland, swamps, and even in buildings and houses!

Size: Eastern ratsnakes grow 4 – 6 feet long, the record is a giant 8 feet 4 inch snake. In many parts of their range, they are the largest snake species.

Lifespan: Ratsnakes can live 20 years or more.

Reproduction: Eastern ratsnakes breed April-June. Females lay 5-30 eggs that hatch in about 90 days, usually around September or October.

Conservation: Ratsnakes are harmless to humans and highly beneficial to us because of all the rats, mice, and other rodents they consume. They also serve as food to other animals including eagles and hawks. Like all animals, snakes play an important role in the health of the environment. If you see a snake, please leave it alone.

Cool Facts: There are many myths and misunderstandings with ratsnakes. Baby ratsnakes are often confused with the venomous copperhead snake because they have a pattern of squares and diamonds down their back that slowly fades to black as they get bigger.
Ratsnakes also rattle their tails when they are frightened, and flatten their head into a triangle shape. Due to these two traits, there is a myth that ratsnakes can mate with copperheads and rattle snakes to produce venomous hybrid offspring. It is actually physically impossible for ratsnakes to mate with either copperheads or rattlesnakes.

Snake identification can be tricky – even for snake experts. It is always a good idea to leave snakes alone.

“Reptiles Alive! was engaging, interesting, and really put on a great show. We were thrilled and delighted.” – Andrea Gallant, Mom, Great Falls, VA

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  1. Dulles Town Center Reptiles Alive Show

    February 22 @ 10:00 am - 10:45 am
  2. Reptiles Alive Show at Doodlehopper 4 Kids

    February 25 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm

TESTIMONIALS

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

5.0
2016-11-16T17:25:35+00:00

Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented...

Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

5.0
2016-11-16T17:28:52+00:00

Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented felt like we were at a fun event! The parents even remarked that they learned something. My son has a lifetime memory because of your program."

"Thank you for an incredible birthday party! All of the children had a wonderful experience. Caroline was so easy to work with and Tony did...

Marcie Blackstone, Mom, Clarksburg MD

5.0
2017-01-02T09:08:56+00:00

Marcie Blackstone, Mom, Clarksburg MD

"Thank you for an incredible birthday party! All of the children had a wonderful experience. Caroline was so easy to work with and Tony did a great job presenting to the kids!"

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a...

Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:11:36+00:00

Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a wonderful experience for everyone!"

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:12:19+00:00

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved...

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:12:52+00:00

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved it! Even those who seemed a little reluctant were reaching out to pe the animals at the end. Caroline's energy and enthusiasm was contagious and we couldn't have asked for more!"

"The program was outstanding. Caroline was so knowledgeable and was able to teach the children at their level. She handled the animals very professionally and...

Joan L. Mancuso, Director Potomac Nursery School

5.0
2017-01-02T09:13:30+00:00

Joan L. Mancuso, Director Potomac Nursery School

"The program was outstanding. Caroline was so knowledgeable and was able to teach the children at their level. She handled the animals very professionally and the hands on experience for the children was well received. I would highly recommend this program--both for our age group (3-4 yr olds) and for elementary school children."
5.0
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