How to Identify a Texas Ratsnake

Hi there, everyone! We’ve been getting requests from you lately to ID different snakes based on their pictures. We love getting these requests, and encourage you to send us more of your snake questions! We will try our best to answer for you, or direct you to an expert herpetologist for help.

One thing we noticed as these photos came in is that most were ratsnakes. In fact, more than 90% were ratsnakes! So we thought that it would benefit everyone if we offered a crash course on ratsnake identification.

First of all, what is a ratsnake?

Ratsnakes are non-venomous, harmless snakes common to Texas. They get their name from (you guessed it) eating rats. They are great to have around in barns and other rodent-prone areas!

Although they are common, ratsnakes can be hard to identify. There are four kinds of ratsnakes in Texas, including:

The Texas Ratsnake is the most common of these, and is sometimes found in suburban neighborhoods. This snake is typically yellowish brown with large, dark brown spots and a white underbelly. It grows four to six feet in length, but keep in mind that juvenile snakes will be smaller than this. Check out our ratsnake release video to see just how big these snakes get as adults:

Watch out for these snakes in vehicles, on wooden rafters, or in chicken coops.

Texas Ratsnake

Notice the brown spots, white underbelly, and head shape of this juvenile Texas Ratsnake.

The other three types of ratsnakes are less common. Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes are clearly distinguishable by their yellowish color and H-shaped spots.

Trans Pecos Ratsnake

A young, light colored Trans-Pecos Ratsnake

Baird’s Ratsnakes are typically orange to red-orange in color with faint dark stripes down their backs.

Baird's Ratsnake

A light, reddish orange Baird’s Ratsnake

Great Plains Ratsnakes can vary in coloring based on region, but are typically grayish brown with brown blotches.

Great Plains Ratsnake

A Great Plains Ratsnake with a grey body and brown spots

Do you have pictures of a ratsnake from your region? Send it to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Email – we would love to share more of these snakes, so that everyone can learn to identify them!

Comments 2

  1. Pingback: How to Snake-proof Your Chicken Coop – TXSI

  2. Carolyn September 19, 2017

    I found a snake in my home, looks like the great plains ratsnake, but the tail on this snake was pointed, and the one on the page shows a blunt tail. it is a small snake, about 12 inches,

    Like

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