Snakes top the list of the most feared creatures that call the suburban wilderness home. The Texas rat snake is one of the more common varieties found in suburban settings. Though they sometimes pretend to be as dangerous as their cousins, the rattlesnake and the cottonmouth, these non-venomous tree-hugging critters are actually one of suburbia’s biggest assets.

Rat snakes have adapted well to suburban living, as they spend most of their time in large oak trees. They have a spotted-brown to olive-green coloring with hues of yellow, orange and occasionally red—perfect camouflage for tree-living.

They can, however, be easily misidentified. When threatened, they have been known to imitate the rattlesnake by shaking their tails. The distinct lack of the signature rattling sound will help you quickly see through this ruse. Juvenile rat snakes have a darker coloring, giving them a similar appearance to the cottonmouth. But look carefully and you will see these tricky youngsters do not boast the telltale white mouth from which the actual cottonmouth gets its name. 

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Rat snakes have adapted to suburban living and can often be found in our backyards.

It might be easy to dismiss rat snakes as spine-tingling pests, but they are actually one of nature’s best forms of pest control. These creepy-crawlers eat some of the most notorious home-invading rodents that plague suburban communities. Mice and rats that make their way into homes can destroy insulation, wires, PVC plumbing, and wood rafters. The presence of rat-snakes, who dine on these pests, ensures a lower rodent population. In addition, rat-snakes compete with the rattler and the cottonmouth for the same food supply, meaning there is very little chance that you’ll find the more dangerous creatures in your area. 

These beautiful animals may give chills to some, but I for one would rather see the snake than the rat!

About Texas Rat Snakes

  • Not venomous
  • Feed on rodents, birds, lizards, squirrels and frogs, which they subdue with constriction
  • Agile climbers and can reach a bird’s nest with ease and can even climb up brick walls
  • Are also found in Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma
  • Grow more than two meters long
  • Have a nasty smell because of the pests they consume
  • Are sometimes erroneously called chicken snakes, because they sometimes consume eggs and fledgling chickens

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