Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)
Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae
Photo of Adult Eastern Ratsnake courtesy of John White
42 - 72 inches. Record - 101 inches.
Photo of Juvenile Eastern Ratsnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Occur in a variety of habitats including farmlands, hardwood forests, forested wetlands, isolated urban woodlots and backyards. They do especially well in edge habitats. An arboreal species they are notorious for getting into human residences, where they may live in attics undetected.
How to Find
Look around farms, abandoned buildings and any edge areas. Drive slowly on country roads just after sunset and look for snakes crossing roadways. Non-venomous, but readily give a painful bite when handled. This is the most commonly reported snake by landowners in Maryland. Take a close look as it is probably what you are seeing in your yard.
Distribution in Maryland
One of our most common snakes, it is found statewide.
- Discover Maryland's Herps
- Maryland Herp History
- Maryland Herp Checklist
- Survey Techniques, Collecting Ethics, Safety and the Law
- Problems with Buying Frogs and Tadpoles for Wild Release
- Technical Guide: A Key to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Maryland - 86.3 MB pdf file
- Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA) Project
- Natural Heritage Program
- Wildlife & Heritage Home
"A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"
To see older newsletters, please visit the MARA Resource Page.
The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.