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Scientific name: Chordata: Reptilia: Testudinata: Colubridae: Elaphe obsoleta
Common Name: Pilot Black Snake

Country: USA
State/District: MD
County: Prince Georges
Date (D-M-Y): 22 - 5 - 2001

Photographer: E. M. Barrows

Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not applicable
Location: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Keywords: Forest Ecology Pilot Black Snake Rat Snake Rattlesnake Pilot USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Additional Information:

Figure 1.   Sam Droege (Wildlife Biologist) found this Pilot Black Snake on 28 June 2001.   The snake was resting on the ground when he discovered it.   It was probably over 3 feet long.
Figures 2-3.   The same snake.
Figures 4.   The same snake which crawled away from its resting spot.   It held its head up about 12 inches and flicked its tongue as it crawled.   Photograph by Dan Kjar.

      Other common names for this snake are Rat Snake and Rattlesnake Pilot.   This species vibrates its tail (as do rattlesnakes) when it is disturbed.   This species consumes birds, eggs, lizards, mice, and other small mammals.   Our fortunate Forest Ecology Class saw two Rat Snakes in fall 1998.   One invaded the GU Ecology Lab and the other was crawling up the trunk of a large tree in Glover-Archbold Park.   Pilot Black Snakes are diurnal during spring and fall and nocturnal during summer.   These snakes are skillful climbers and raid birds' nests, consuming eggs and young birds.


Behler, John L. and F. Wayne King.   1979.   National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians.   Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.   743 pp.

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