Yellow rat snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittatus, below left) are large, non-venomous snakes that occur in peninsular Florida. Their relatives, the gray rat snake (Pantherophis spiloides, below right) can be found further north in the Panhandle. The two species often hybridize and the offspring are commonly called “Gulf Hammock” rat snakes. Scientists are currently debating the taxonomy of these two species, as well as the related Eastern rat snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis).
This Gulf Hammock rat snake, found in the Ashton neighborhood, shows influence of both gray and yellow rat snake species. Yellow rat snakes are characterized by their yellow color and four dark stripes. Gray rat snakes typically have saddles. All three rat snake species can be found in almost any habitat that has abundant prey, such as lizards, frogs, rodents, rabbits and birds. Because of their adaptability, they are frequently seen around farms and residential areas.