The Black Rat Snake Encounter

While I was on my way to work, I saw something peculiar. At a quick glance from the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a strip of rubber. I could’ve trampled it over with my bike like it was no big deal, but I am usually very precautious, and/or paranoid of highly improbable possibilities. However, as I moved closer to it, it moved, slithered. I decided to stop and take a closer look at it. I was sure glad I didn’t roll over it.

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Of course, from the use of the word “slither” earlier, you could probably guess that it was a snake. I set my bike away from the snake so that I could take a closer look at it. I took some pictures and decided to watch it for a while, despite my tight schedule. I was amused at it since nothing really interesting happens in my life. This is probably as good as it will ever get. It “licked” the air to get a sense of what was going on. I guess a “taste” of human presence caused it to slither away fast. No, I did not touch its tongue. Snakes smell with their tongue, as it plays a vital role in their Vemeronasal System (as a simple way of putting it, it is a way of detecting pheromones, a “sixth sense” that most humans lose during fetal development).

After that experience and an evening’s worth of work, I decided to do some research about it. At first, I Googled the descriptions of the snake: which gave a lot of results. Then I decided to Google “snakes of Kansas,” which led me to a site of snakes that were commonly found in Kansas, including the one I had encountered today. The one that it seemed to be was a non-venomous Black Rat Snake.

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A bit about the Black Rat Snake is that (again) it is non-venomous. It has quite the muscle-power despite its slender body. They can also get quite long, averaging up to 183 cm, or 6.1 ft. Some sub-species of Black Rat Snakes are also known to imitate the rattle of a rattlesnake by shaking leaves around its tail (of course) with its tail to (likewise of a rattlesnake) warn or ward off predators. As its name implies, Black Rat Snakes mainly feed on, well, rats. They will also feed on many other small animals, killing them all by constriction.

Everyone in Mr. Mohn’s classes probably has seen a Black Rat Snake before. That’s right, Mr. Mohn has one in his class as well, however, his Black Rat Snake is white. It has a condition called Leucism. Leucism is when an animal’s pigmentation cells fail to develop properly, causing white patches to appear on the affected animal’s body. Sometimes, on rare occasions, the entire body. Leucism should not be confused for Albinism, because Albinism also affects the eye color of the animal, turning it red or pink because of the exposure of blood vessels.

Knowing that a Black Rat Snake is not venomous, relatively small (but long), and can prey upon pests, would a Black Rat Snake make a nice pet? I think so.

About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

This entry was written by Patrick C. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Black Rat Snake Encounter

  1. Mr. Mohn says:

    This is a great blog post because it highlights one simple aspect of the everyday Biology that we can see all around us…IF we are paying attention.

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