Trans-Pecos Rat Snake, Trans Pecos Ratsnake
Scientific Name: Bogertophis subocularis
The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake measures between three and four feet on average, though larger specimens have been seen. Some have attained lengths as long as 6 feet. These snakes have unusually large eyes, red tongues, and often they have a black striped pattern down their backs. These snakes can come in a variety of different color phases. In the wild color phases are generally seen in different locals. For example red or orange phases can be seen near Big Bend while the steel grey phase is typically found in the Franklin Mountains of El Paso and in the eastern portion of Brewster County.
Larger wild-caught specimens of Trans-Pecos Rat Snakes usually do not fare well in captivity unless Kangaroo Rats are offered as a food source.
They do not require much maintenance and if you take proper care of them, they will live a very long time. Like all snakes they shed so be careful about feeding and handling during this time. Enclosures for Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes should include hiding spots.
The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake is commonly bred in captivity. In the wild mating occurs from spring until fall depending on location. In the Hueco Mountains it is reported that these snakes breed in September and early October, while near Big Bend they usually mate in July and August. In the Guadalupe Mountains two breeding seasons are witnessed, in spring and fall.
The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake has grown in popularity among hobbyists within the last decade.
Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes are calm snakes that typically don't mind being held and don't get too large. The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake is common in the pet trade and is usually not difficult to find. These snakes grow amazingly fast. If you feed them enough they can reach lengths of up to a foot and a half long in just under half a year. As juveniles, they can be a little skittish and standoffish and you may need to handle them often to get them used to you. Once they do get used to you, though, they will usually become quite used to handling and are often easy to hold. In the wild, the Trans-Pecos Ratsnake lives in the deserts of Texas, Mexico and a portion of New Mexico near El Paso. Daytime sightings in the wild are rare and uncommon. If you're looking for a good-sized snake that is calm and attractive the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake may be the snake for you. Their coloring and pattern are proving to be very attractive to collectors and breeders alike.
Most Trans Pecos Ratsnakes are found in the Trans Pecos region of Texas. In New Mexico they are generally associated with locations near the Rio Grande or further east near the Guadalupe Mountains. Over collecting has greatly reduced numbers in several areas. A decade ago this species was a common resident in the Franklin Mountains but now is rarely seen especially in the grey color phase. Numbers appear to be fairly secure in the lower Trans Pecos region but road mortality is a growing concern.
They are extremely nocturnal and usually prey on mice and rats, or sleeping birds and sometimes even bats in the wild.