There are two kinds of rat snakes in the Skiatook area, the Black Rat Snake and the Great Plains Rat Snake, but the black rat snake is by far the more common. Rat snakes are nonvenomous.

The black rat snake, often just called a black snake, is long, reaching 72 inches or more, is shiny black and has a light-colored belly. During cool or warm weather it is diurnal (active during the day) but in hot weather it becomes nocturnal (active at night).

The Great Plains rat snake is half the length of the black rat snake, is patterned with large brown blotches on the top and smaller blotches on the sides and is nocturnal, so it’s not often seen. The food of both consists of rodents, birds, eggs, frogs and reptiles, including other snakes. They are an excellent, and free, means of rodent control around houses and barns and should be left alone.

Rat snakes are constrictors and squeeze their prey to suffocate them. When disturbed, a rat snake vibrates its tail and if it happens to be in dead leaves or grass it may sound like the warning of a rattlesnake. Rat snakes are skilled climbers and may be found in holes and cavities high up in trees.

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E-mail lindsey.chastain

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Managing Editor

Lindsey is the managing editor for the Skiatook Journal. She holds an M.A in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to the start of her news career in 2011, Renuard was a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.