The Texas Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimerii) is probably the most common large snake found in Texas. The snake is often given the common name “chicken snake,” probably because of of it’s fondness for eggs, particularly a hen’s eggs. This snake is often misidentified for several reasons.
This snake will vibrate its tail, and depending on what the tail is hitting against may make a sound that will make you think that you are dealing with a rattlesnake, even though they have no rattle! While the juveniles are colored with brown blotches on a gray background, the adult’s dark gray to black blotches will be on a red, orange, yellow, or even white background, giving the snake a wide range of possible color combinations.
Adults are from 4 to 6 feet long, but I’ve seen several approaching 7 feet! These snakes will eat any kind of rodent, birds, and bird eggs. They are excellent climbers, and will go up trees and into attics and under homes in search of prey. These snakes are very aggressive when cornered or captured.
The Texas Rat Snake is a constrictor and it is not venomous. If you don’t have any food (such as mice and birds) for them around your house, they will tend to stay away. They are one of the most beneficial snakes because of their ability to keep the rodent population down.