juvenile Rat snake (Pytas mucosus maximus)
Common Rat Snake ( Ptyas mucosa maximuns) | juvenile | Yesitha Rodrigo

Rat Snakes are certainly a species that almost every Sri Lankan knows commonly found urban and populated areas the main reasons for this is the abundance of their favourite meal, Rats hence the name Rat Snake.

Diet: they also feed on other small mammals, birds, lizards, geckos, other snakes and even feeds on Common Indian Toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) which has a toxin called Bufotoxin. which is toxic most of the snakes found in Sri Lanka but Rat snake is immune to this toxin.

identification and Coloration: Rat snakes have a rather elongated head with large eyes and a strong robust body. they can easily be identified with the black lines on their ‘labials’ Labials are the scales on its lips. rats snake come in various colours anywhere from an olivaceous green to a light grey or even a golden yellow dorsally with whitish transverse streaks hidden between scales. with greyish-white to light mustard yellow ventrals.  ventrals are the scales on the underside of a snake’s belly.

Common Rat Snake | Yesitha Rodrigo
Common Rat Snake | Yesitha Rodrigo

Habits and Behaviors: Diurnal is commonly seen during the day in search of food well adapted to climb often seen on trees in search of bird nests. and a remarkable swimmer with the ability to dive underwater.  when cornered they hiss loudly and strikes rapidly to bite if provoked they are Harmless Non-Venomous they kill their prey by constricting. if they are caught by predators they twist themselves in order to escape. they also musk is a substance of their bi-products from their digestive system which they spay out of their cloaca it has a strong odour to it.

SIZE: Rat Snakes are the second largest species of snakes in Sri Lanka reaching an average size of about 3 meters  (9ft 10in) or more. there are records of specimens up-to 12ft.

Global Distribution: Commonly found all throughout Sri Lanka. also found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Myanmar to southern China.

Threats: Unfortunately people in Sri Lanka have a practice of putting kerosene oil on them when they wander into home gardens or inside houses in search of a meal to send them away kerosene oil on a snake’s skin reacts the same way as acid on human skin. this burns the snake alive and kills in 7-10 days or less if not treated. and many of them become victims of Road-kills.




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