Help identify this wild caught snake

Found while camping in south central Pennsylvania. We were on a semi steep mountainside about 60 feet from a large lake. We held him for a few minutes then released where found. Just curious what kind he was. He was 4 1/2 feet long.


Black rat snake maybe? My identification skills aren’t perfect but it looks a lot like one

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Cool thanks!

I don’t know, I’d be more inclined to say northern black racer.


It does look a lot like a racer too. Hard to tell the difference between the two :joy: I was thinking rat snake because all the black racers ive seen are fully black on the upper side (while black rats can have hints of white and brown) and the belly scales have a pronounced border between the black and white (which this snake doesn’t have). Another thing I’ve noticed between the snakes is rat snakes have longer heads and smaller eyes while it’s the opposite for racers. These have just been my observations but I’m no professional so I could be wrong about all that :joy::snake:

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Thanks for the observations ladies! This guy didn’t exactly match online pictures of those two, so maybe a hybrid? Are racers more aggressive? He didn’t like being handled but was surprisingly calm.

In general both of those snakes are pretty docile, black rats are usually a little less defensive from what I’ve heard.

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It is a black rat snake. You can tell by looking at the head and the scales. Black racers also have larger eyes.


Undoubtedly an adult Pantherophis alleghaniensis, common name of Black or Eastern Ratsnake.

Distinguished from the Black/Northern Racers (Coluber constrictor) by the checkered belly and the larger, fuller head of P. alleghaniensis. By contrast, C. constrictor has a smaller, more pointed head as well as “milky” ventral (belly) scales.

Attached is a photo for comparison of head shapes. On the left is C. constrictor, on the right is P. alleghaniensis.


I see those

here in Florida all the time!