Authored by Rodney Southern in Nature and Wildlife
Published on 09-30-2009
The yellow rat snake is one of the finest pet snakes on the market, but retrieving one in the wild can be quite an adventure. While they are not overly aggressive, they are known to be feisty biters. In the wild, the yellow rat snake is simply seeing you as a threat. When you have a yellow rat snake long enough as a pet, that usually dies down quite a bit. Finding a yellow rat snake in the wild is also a bit of a challenge.
The yellow rat snake is actually one of many rat snake species found in the US. This snake is actually found in the South, and can be located from the Carolinas to Georgia and down into the Sunshine State. They are very common throughout this area, but they are not commonly seen unless you live on a farm. The yellow rat snake is very close relatives with the black rat snake found above South Carolina. Both snakes are considered relatively good pets in captivity.
The yellow rat snake is sometimes tough to identify as they are not always yellow. This snake can actually be any number of colors including yellow, green and brown. The major sign that you have a yellow rat snake are the four brown lines that run down their sides. The younger yellow rat snakes will sometimes have brown blotches and markings instead of the lines, however. The eyes of the yellow rat snake often mirror the color of their bodies, though nobody seems to know why.
The yellow rat snake is about five feet in length and is usually quite thin. They are constrictor snakes, so they are incredibly strong. Constrictors bite their prey and then quickly wrap it in their coils. They then gradually squeeze the prey until they are no longer breathing, then they swallow the prey headfirst.
Finding a yellow rat snake in the wild is fairly tough unless you have access to a farm. Yellow rat snakes go where the rats are, and farms are a prime habitat. As a matter of fact, farmers welcome the sight of a yellow rat snake, because they eliminate huge numbers of mice and rats. They are the best natural form of vermin control that one could hope for.
If you are able to find a yellow rat snake that you want as a pet, it is much better the younger they are. If you get one that is already grown, it can be hard to acclimate them to being captive. They survive just fine, and will actually thrive in captivity, but they will not be very good pet snakes to handle in most cases. Some people are able to work them to that point, but most can not handle the constant striking that some rat snakes will do. A bite from a yellow rat snake is not venomous, but they do hurt. Also, you have the added potential problem of infection. They feed on rats, after all.
Yellow rat snakes are wonderful pets if you get one from a baby. They are gentle and almost never bite if you get them young.