Black tree snakes, also known as black rat snakes, are non-venomous snakes belonging to the family of Colubridae, which is the largest snake family. Colubrid snakes are said to be found on every continent except Antarctica. Some might confuse a black rat snake with rattlesnakes as they use the trick of vibrating their tails to scare off predators, just like a rattlesnake does.
There are various subspecies of rat snakes with certain common characteristics like the yellow rat snake, the everglades rat snake, the grey rat, and the Texas rat snake all of whom share similar color variations and behaviors.
The black tree snake, or black rat snake, is one of the most widely distributed snakes in the world. These species of snakes are excellent at climbing mountains or any elevations above sea level! A rat snake but might look scary at first but is completely non-venomous and harmless to humans.
What class of animal does a black tree snake belong to?
A black rat snake belongs to the class Reptilia.
How many black tree snakes are there in the world?
No specific number is given as to how many black tree snakes are present in the world, but they are distributed throughout the world in abundance.
Where does a black tree snake live?
This snake can be found throughout the world but is widely distributed in the eastern parts of Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas to the west of Louisiana, and across the United States.
What is a black tree snake's habitat?
As the name says about this black tree snake, they live in trees, rocky hillsides, or flat farmlands. These rat snakes prefer living at elevations above sea level as they are excellent climbers and love residing in trees. A black tree snake's habitat is rocky hillsides, backyard farms, and large trees.
Who do black tree snakes live with?
During hibernation periods, this tree snake can be seen living in a group as it is a descendant of the paraphyletic group. This snake is quite vulnerable to large birds, therefore it prefers living in trees or digging hollow burrows as its habitat.
How long does a black tree snake live?
This tree snake is said to live up to 10-15 years in the wild. If kept captive some snakes can also live up to 30 years!
How do they reproduce?
Reproduction in these rat snakes happens after their hibernation period, generally from March to May. In May and June male rat snakes seek out a mate by releasing a chemical substance called pheromones which attract female rat snakes. Mating lasts for a few minutes or a few hours after which the female lays around 12-20 eggs under leaves or in hollow grounds. The eggs hatch after 60-70 days in August and October. These hatchlings are around 12-16 in (30-40 cm). It is said that under ideal environmental conditions female rat snakes can reproduce twice a year!
What is their conservation status?
Black rat snakes' conservation status is considered to be stable at the moment. In the state of Michigan, this species is listed under Special Concern. However, as humans do not have proper knowledge about the behavior of these rat snakes they are often victimized or ill-treated.
Black Tree Snake Fun Facts
What do black tree snakes look like?
The body of this tree snake is completely black on the upper part while the lower part, that is the belly and chin, is white in color. There are numerous outlines present in the whole body of a rat snake, around there are eight supralabials, and over 220 ventral scales, with 70-100 subcaudals. Hatchlings are usually light gray in color with dark blotches, and as they keep maturing and growing, the color keeps getting darker.
How cute are they?
They aren't cute but rather quite sophisticated looking due to their glossy scales and skin pattern.
How do they communicate?
Not a lot of information is available as to how an adult black rat snake might communicates but they certainly use their senses to warn of predators or during the mating period.
How big is a black tree snake?
This tree snake is quite big, it is one of the longest snakes in North America holding a record length of 100.7 in (256.5 cm).
How fast can a black tree snake move?
Even after being one of the longest species of snakes, this tree snake is also said to be the fastest moving snake that slithers up to 12 mph (19.3 kph)!
How much does a black tree snake weigh?
Their body weight can range between 1.1-4.9 lb (0.5-2.2 kg) for adults.
What are the male and female names of the species?
There is no specific name for the male and female species but it is possible to differentiate between the two by the size of their tails.
What would you call a baby black tree snake?
A baby tree snake is called a hatchling.
What do they eat?
This species is said to be a constrictor, meaning it blocks the airways of its prey to a point where no blood circulation is passed on. Black rat snakes usually prey on small creatures like mice, rats, lizards, or other species of vertebrates. The juvenile's diet can range from possums and songbirds to bird eggs, while the adult tree snake consumes chipmunks, rabbits, and squirrels. Black rat snakes are said to be one of the top predators in consuming a large number of eggs and hatchlings.
Are they poisonous?
Black rat snakes are non-venomous, meaning they do not produce any toxins that are harmful to humans. However, if a rat snake is agitated it might bite, which could cause certain infections that might lead to serious problems.
Would they make a good pet?
Yes, rat snakes can make great pets if handled well. As these rat snakes are great climbers, it is required to keep them in a large locked-up tank with proper heat and food supply to prevent hibernation.
Did you know...
A black rat snake is also called a chicken snake! As they are seen near henhouses and also feed on chicken eggs.
Farmers love having a rat snake around their farms as it benefits them by killing tiny rodents like rats, mice, and other pest animals.
Eastern rat snakes are great at camouflaging since they can hide at the bark of trees or rocks due to their body color.
Like most other reptiles these creatures also stay with their eggs till they hatch.
These creatures are territorial and try to keep other reptiles, like the green anaconda or the king cobra, as far away from them as possible.
Are black tree snakes dangerous?
Black rat snakes are not at all dangerous in fact they are quite shy and tame in nature. One of their characteristics is to avoid confrontation as they tend to freeze or wrinkle up near their predators. Large birds such as owls and hawks are said to have combats with these eastern snakes! The black rat snake emits a chemical foul-smelling odor if caught by its predator that would release them.
How is a black tree snake different from other snakes of the colubrid family?
The colubrid family is one of the largest snakes family with around 1700 species. Black tree snakes are one of the longest snakes belonging to this family, it holds a record of 14.11 ft (4.3 m), even though they are excellent climbers they are said to excel at swimming as well!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our black mamba facts and smooth green snake facts pages.
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