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Eastern Rat Snake No. Yellow Rat Snake, Yes by Richard Bartlett on 2021-07-19 00:03:00


A Yellow Rat Snake from Central Florida .

By Dick and Patti Bartlett

Despite their need for papers and what the geneticists claim, I continue to follow the Linnaeus method and recognize subspecies. To that end, this is now and has been almost forever the Yellow Rat Snake, Pantherophis obsoleta quadrivittata. There are 4 other subspecies, including the nominate form, the northeastern Black Rat Snake, in this species group.

It is at the southeastern edge of its range that the Black Rat Snake slips gently into the yellow race. First the southernmost Black Rat Snakes assume a dorsolateral pattern of stripes and a greenish hue and as the greenish rats continue further south they become the traditional and long recognized yellow subspecies. But way south, down near Lake Okeechobee, when the Everglades was truly a river of grass, before the rice fields, the sugarcane, the sodfields, before the maze of drainage canals and Brazilian pepper, the yellow rat snake lost all but a vestige of stripes, assumed a deep orange color, and became the Everglades rat snake. Human influx = habitat destruction. And despite the efforts of the state, if such efforts, are actually real, habitat destruction continues, seemingly almost unabated.

But now back to comments regarding the yellow rat snake. They are real, and they continue to exist, perhaps in reduced numbers, over most if not all, of their long-described range. They remain rather common in our neighborhood, but houses are now quickly replacing the woodlands here. I can only hope for the best. Long live the Yellow Rat Snake.
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