Leopard Ratsnake Fact File
The leopard ratsnake is named for its distinctive pattern of red spots which cover the body which has a gray, tan or reddish background.
They are carnivores and as part of the colubridae family which means they have a very mild venom. This is not enough to subdue prey. Instead they constrict it similar to a python to capture rodents and birds.
In some parts of their range the leopard ratsnake is welcomed in to the homes of humans to help control the population of leopard ratsnakes.
They are currently believed to be common and to have a stable population but a threat is presented due to habitat loss from agriculture intensification.
Read on to learn more about these reptiles by reading on below.
The leopard ratsnake is a brightly colored snake which comes in two different color morphs. One is the saddled and the other is striped. The scales across their body are smooth.
Their scale coloration is shades of gray, tan and red. The various areas of pattern may be surrounded by an area of black scales. A black band is present between the two eyes across the top of the head.
The round eye is orange with a round pupil.
An average leopard ratsnake measures 1m (3.25ft) long. Female leopard ratsnakes are typically larger than the males.
The European ratsnake is a carnivore. They will feed on small mammals, reptiles and birds. Adults primarily take rodents while young focus on small lizards.
The venom of the leopard ratsnake is very weak and as such they primarily constrict their prey to make it edible. They may enter the burrows of rodents to hunt for them.
Europe is the native home of the leopard ratsnake. Here they can be found in the following countries – Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Greece; Italy; Malta; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Turkey and Ukraine.
Their current presence in Cyprus is uncertain.
The leopard ratsnakes will live in scrubland, shrubland, field edges, marshes, stream edges and they often live alongside humans in gardens, vineyards and even buildings.
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During mating the male will keep hold of the female by biting around her neck and coiling around her.
The female leopard ratsnake will produce a clutch of 2-5 eggs in July or August. After laying the eggs she may remain with them for several days.
Eggs hatch within sixty and seventy days of being laid.
The leopard ratsnake is active during the day.
Often the leopard ratsnake is seen hanging in a tree during the day.
Predators and Threats
The diet of the leopard ratsnake has made it welcome in many parts of its range. Some people will tolerate them in their homes where they control rodent populations and they are seen as good luck.
When threatened they will flatten out their head and they may bite. If caught they are likely to bite.
Leopard ratsnakes are considered common and are stable in much of their range. In parts of Italy they are considered rare and they are declining in Albania.
They face threats from the pet trade and habitat loss as agriculture expands in to more of their range.
Due to their similar coloration to the corn snake of the Americas they are known there as the European corn snake.
Their Greek name is spitofido meaning house snake in reference to the habit of people bringing these snakes in to their houses to control mice populations.
Leopard ratsnakes are part of the colubridae family.
Berkay353, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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