Sit back and relax – Slithers the shed snake

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YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Or don’t relax, if you have a thing about snakes…

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So we open the shed door one day, and there on the floor is Slithers, the resident shed snake.

We’ve seen this fellow before, but usually curled up in a corner, or draped tastefully over a ceiling beam. Seeing Slithers stretched out like this is a real treat.

Slithers is one splendid specimen of Pantherophis alleghaniensis, the black rat snake, so-called because they are black and eat rats. (The color of the rat is irrelevant.) They are not totally black; as you can see in the closeups, Slithers has a white tummy and faint white crossbars along the back. They are also known as eastern rat snakes, and some people, trying to cover all the bases, call them eastern black rat snakes.

While they’re best known for eating rodents, black rat snakes will also eat birds, and even eggs-they’re very good at climbing trees. (A friend of ours once watched a black rat snake swallow two chicken eggs; she considers it a fair exchange for having a rodent-free barn.)

When we opened the door, Slithers kinked up. Instead of a typically smooth snake, we were looking at a creature that looked like a series of lumps. (You can see that in the video.) Jesse Rothaker of Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary tells us there are a number of snake species that do this-it breaks up the pattern of the snake so it will be better camouflaged. It just doesn’t work too well against a concrete floor. When Slithers starts to move in the video, you can see the kinks smooth out.

The door the snake is sliding past is 33 inches wide, so using that as a ruler, our best guess is that Slithers is four, and possibly even five feet long. Six feet is generally considered the maximum length for a black rat snake, so Slithers is pretty big.

We hardly ever see rodents in or around Slithers’s shed.

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