Longest snake in North America – Black rat snake

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Size

Black rat snake

Black rat snake photo: cygnus921

Otherwise known as the Western ratsnake

The longest snake in North America is the black rat snake, sometimes referred to as the western ratsnake. This sneaky serpent frequents many states across the U.S.A. and has been spotted as far north as Ontario in Canada.


How big can it get?

The longest recorded black rat snake is a shade over two-and-a-half metres (8 feet).


What does it eat?

These snakes make excellent pest-control officers. Rats and mice are top of the shopping list, although it will happily munch on squirrels, chipmunks, birds, amphibians and other reptiles.


How does it hunt?

This versatile constrictor is as likely to climb trees in search of food as it is to explore the grounds. It’s also an expert at raiding bird boxes and other small enclosures in search of eggs or bird fledglings.


How dangerous is it?

Thanks to its length and its black colouring, it is often mistaken for being deadly. Instead, this non-venomous serpent is almost harmless to humans. Folklore though suggests that it will lead prey to venomous rattlesnakes, which it happily co-exists with.


How many are left?

Ever heard of a snake with a bodyguard? This species has the police on its side. Despite being considered stable, many states have made it illegal to kill or collect the black rat snake. Anybody found doing so will pay a hefty price.


Anything else?

Whilst the black rat snake is the longest indigenous snake in North America, a number of bigger species are beginning to appear in the U.S. Non-native species that have been introduced as pets are now finding their way into the wild by escaping or being disregarded by owners that can no longer take care of them. As such, giants such as the Burmese python and African rock python are now at large in Florida.

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