Brown rat snake, Chicken snake, Eastern spotted snake, Emory's Coluber, Emory's pilot snake, Emory's racer, Emory's snake, Gray rat snake, Mouse snake, Prairie rat snake, Spotted mouse snake, Texas rat snake, Western pilot snake
The Great Plains rat snake is a nonvenomous snake native to the central part of the United States. It is typically light gray or tan in color, with dark gray, brown, or green-gray blotching down its back. There are also stripes on either side of the head which meet to form a point between the eyes.
Great Plains rat snakes occur from Missouri to Nebraska, to Colorado, south to Texas, and into northern Mexico. They prefer open grassland or lightly forested habitats but are also found on coastal plains, semi-arid regions, as well as rocky, moderately mountainous regions, and on farmland.
Great Plains rat snakes are solitary and primarily nocturnal creatures. They usually remain still for a majority of their time awake and on average, they only move 188 meters per day. Like most rat snakes, when agitated, the Great Plains rat snake will shake its tail vigorously, which by itself makes no noise, but when it shakes amongst dry leaf litter, it can sound remarkably like a rattlesnake, and often leads to misidentification. Though this snake has very small teeth and is nonvenomous, it will bite. However, as a whole, Great Plains rat snakes are very calm and non-aggressive. Great Plains rat snakes hibernate from late autumn and until late winter or early March. Preferred hibernating places are rocky slopes with some trees on which the snakes can bask.
Great Plains rat snakes are carnivores. They hunt mainly rodents and will also eat birds, and occasionally snakes, lizards, and frogs, all of which they subdue by constriction.
Great Plains rat snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) meaning that both the males and females have multiple partners. The breeding season usually occurs in May or early June. Great Plains rat snakes are oviparous and lay clutches of as many as 25 eggs in the late spring. Incubation lasts between 55 and 60 days. Baby rat snakes are independent from the moment they hatch and usually remain near the place they were born for up to 2 years. Females become reproductively mature at 8-10 years of age while males are ready to breed when they are between 6 and 8 years old.
There are no major threats to this species at present.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Great Plains rat snake total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.