Should I add an Eastern rat snake to my to-get list?

I’m casually exploring options for acquiring a pet colubrid next year with these four requirements: a soft muted gray on gray patterning that approximates the patterning & texture of Western rattlers’s saddles; budget; strong brumation instinct; and a docile demeanor.

I’d ideally like to stay below a five foot adult size range with an adult mice diet. Preferably the snake would be quite active with some diurnal tendencies, and do well with lower humidity and shaded forest-type lighting/habitat. A big bonus is that soft gray coloration is part of their natural history.

Kings are too shiny here, hogs too pricey, corns too weakly brumate (from my understanding), gophers too big - but what about rat snakes? The gray rat snake is from the wrong environ but Easterns may work given their natural northerly distribution?

Is there any box they don’t tick with regard to both requirements and ideals? [I understand they can be feisty at first but should tame up nicely? And budget-wise I’m ok with a large & tall DIY adult enclosure.]

Is there a better colubrid candidate that I may have overlooked?

The eastern rat snake includes the black ratsnake, the yellow rat snake, the everglades ratsnake, and the greenish rat snake (all the same species but just localities like in rosy boas basically). They all go through color changes as they age and don’t stay looking like grey rat snakes. They average 5 feet but can easily get bigger, especially when they aren’t bred. If you get a baby from a good breeder they can usually tell you if they have a good temperament. Both my baby black ratsnakes are docile and my female is active and explores a lot. The male is a bit more shy as he is smaller. They will rattle their tails if you startle them though. It is adorable honestly.

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An axanthic Trans Pecos rat snake or I guess just a naturally washed out looking Trans Pecos rat snake fits all of your categories. I’d definitely go for that. Both of the snakes in these photos are blonde and axanthic but the regular axanthics look very similar with the main difference just being slightly darker patterning.


Ah, so for a rat snake to fulfill my top requirement, I’ve gotta go with a gray (who may lighten with age & retain patterning) but then they’ll likely fail the brumation aspect, etc. This is really good info and thank you.

Yeah, I saw that phenomenal photo earlier today by @creaturesofnightshade when I ran a search on rat snakes at MM. I also ran a wider google search earlier on Trans-Pecos but their availability & pricing isn’t exactly budget friendly.

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Geez, apparently I was most flexible with budget requirement to optimize that rattler appearance similarity I so desire in a pet. Those keeled scales and flecking in hogs was just too much to resist!! So much so, that I also amended acquisition time-frame by a year.

Meet Quetzal**:

He’s not mine yet, I’m only half way there!

**I received permission to freely use photo without attribution - but would like to give photo credit to Steve Sykes from Geckos Etc.