Black Rat Snake or Pilot Snake
Wisconsin status: protected wild animal
length: 40-72 inches
When looking for snakes, you might not think to look up. But, if you want to see the black rat snake, you just might have to. This long and muscular snake is Wisconsin's only arboreal (that means tree-dwelling) snake.
The background color of this snake is dark brown to black and is sometimes flecked with white, yellow or orange between the scales. Red and yellow flecks mark the dark gray or brown underside. The heads of the adults are solid black or brown on top. They have white chins and throats. Young black rat snakes with their patterns and blotches can be confused with young fox snakes.
You'll only find these snakes in a few counties in southwest Wisconsin. They live in bluff prairies, oak woodlands and pastures. Every now and then one is seen climbing or resting in the rafters of a barn or shed. When they aren't hanging out in trees, they're hunting for rodents and birds to eat.