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Reptile and Amphibian Encyclopedia > Snakes > Rat Snakes

Corn Snakes and Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are medium to large constrictors that can be found through a great portion of the northern hemisphere. They feed primarily on rodents and birds and, with some species exceeding 10 feet, they can occupy top levels of some food chains. Many species make attractive and docile pets and one, the corn snake, is one of the most popular reptile pets in the world. Other species can be very skittish and sometimes aggressive but bites are seldom serious and no species of ratsnake is dangerous to humans. They were long thought to be completely nonvenomous, but recent studies have shown that at least some Old World species do possess small amounts of venom (amounts so small as to be negligible to humans).

Previously most ratsnakes were assigned to the genus Elaphe but many have been since renamed following mitochondrial DNA analysis performed in 2002. For the purpose of this article names will be harmonized with the TIGR Database. When searching for information on a particular species of ratsnake it might be useful to query the old name, Elaphe sp., as well as the new.

Old World Rat Snakes

New World Rat Snakes

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