What Do Black Rat Snakes Eat?

If you’re searching for a non-venomous snake to keep in your yard, black rat snakes might be worth considering. These reptiles can be found throughout North America and tend to be very docile in nature.

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They are adept at controlling rodent populations. Their diet consists primarily of small mammals, but they will also eat soft-bodied insects and frogs.



Black rat snakes are predators that feed on a variety of smaller animals. They have been known to consume small mice, lizards, frogs, as well as birds and rabbits.

Snakes of this size range between 40 to 70 inches long, and can be found in a variety of habitats like farmlands, forestlands, rocky hillsides and mountains as well as suburban settings.

Black rat snakes are nonvenomous and rarely pose a threat to people unless cornered or surprised. However, they can succumb to common reptile illnesses such as mouth rot, infectious stomatitis and fungal infections.


Black rat snakes are non-venomous and will usually kill their prey by constriction: grasping onto an animal with their teeth and wrapping its body around until its circulation is cut off.

They can grow to two meters long with shiny black scales. The skin between the scales along their sides is usually red or brown; a band of black runs between their eyes and angles down toward their mouth.

Infant rat snakes typically appear light gray or tan, with dark brown blotches. As they grow older, their color fades to a more uniform black.

Their diet includes rodents such as mice and rats, frogs, and lizards. Additionally, they feed on bird eggs and small mammals like chipmunks. Furthermore, these adept climbers have been known to raid bird boxes and chicken coops with ease.


A black rat snake that becomes hungry will hunt and consume squirrels. These snakes possess incredible climbing skills, enabling them to climb the trunks of mature trees in search of prey.

Birds have also been known to feed on them. Between May and July, predatory wasps often prey upon nesting birds in particular.

They typically nest in hollow logs, under stumps or rocks, as well as piles of vegetation, wood or debris. Females lay 6-30 eggs which hatch within 27-28 days.

Black rat snakes are widespread and adaptable, thriving in a range of habitats. They tend to congregate around woodlands, forest margins, rocky hillsides, river floodplains and mountain ledges for protection.


Black rat snakes will feed on a variety of small animals, such as rodents, birds, lizards and frogs when they become hungry.

Birds are one of their favorite foods due to their ease of capture and consumption. Additionally, these creatures have excellent climbing skills which enable them to reach nests in trees, making them a prime target for raiding chicken coops and bird boxes.

Rat snakes are constrictor snakes, meaning that they use their body to choke and kill their prey. Furthermore, their foul-smelling odor deters many predators – particularly foxes and raccoons.


Black rat snakes will feed on a variety of foods when they become hungry. Not only do they prey upon rodents, but also prefer to consume frogs, lizards and small birds.

They are capable constrictors and adept climbers, so they can suffocate their prey with their powerful bodies. This means they could easily consume whole mature squirrels, chipmunks or even large rats.

These snakes can be beneficial to farmers by controlling pest animals like mice, rats and chipmunks. They usually live in wooded or open fields but also enter buildings, barns and attics in search of prey.