Trans-Pecos Rat Snake

Bogertrophis subocularis

Order: Squamata

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Temperature, Humidity, & Lighting:
    • Temperature:
    • Humidity:
    • Lighting:
  • Substrate:

Diet Requirements

  • In the wild, Trans-Pecos rat snakes eat rodents, birds, and small lizards.
  • In captivity, they are fed rodents.

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


hot water bottle

Temperature Guidelines

  • Brandywine Zoo: During cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle set to one side of the cooler. Wrap bottle with newspaper for lizards or snakes traveling with the bottle loose, to make cleanups easier in the case of defecation while traveling.



  • Brandywine Zoo: reptiles travel in a Coleman style coolers that have been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). Small and medium sized snakes travel inside an inside-out, knotted pillowcase. Large snakes travel loose in the cooler that is also bungeed shut. For lizards, the cooler is lined with newspaper.
  • lg cooler sm cooler cooler

Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling


Potential Messaging

  • Snakes are an important link in the food chain. They provide food for many bird and mammal species that prey on them. The main diet of most snakes is rodents. Therefore, snakes provide a very valuable service – pest control. Most snakes are non-venomous and will avoid humans if they can. Venomous snakes want to use their venom to kill small prey animals or to defend themselves; since humans are too big to be considered prey by most snakes, the best way to avoid a bite is not to make the snake feel threatened. Ask guests to avoid any snakes they may see in the wild and appreciate them from a distance.
  • Desert and Dryland species have specific adaptations for the temperature and water availability in their natural habitat and may not be able to adjust to the drying effects of climate change. Hotter conditions promote wildfires. More extreme drought conditions kill plants that hold the soil in place and occasional extreme rain events wash that soil away preventing them from growing back in a process called desertification. Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere. Please ask guests to walk, bike, or take public transportation when possible and to reduce their use of fossil fuels when they do drive by buying a fuel economic car, carpooling, combining errands, and keeping vehicles properly tuned up and their tires properly inflated. At home and work, purchase Energy Star appliances, turn off lights when they are not in use, and use heaters and air conditioners sparingly. The principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle will also help by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions involved with the manufacture and disposal of unnecessary goods.

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

This snake is native to the Big Bend and Trans-Pecos regions of Texas and southern New Mexico, southwards to north-central Mexico. They can be find in warm, arid deserts.

Physical Description

The background color of this snake is straw to olive-yellow. The neck is marked with a pair of stripes that fade and become H-shaped blotches on the body. Trans-Pecos rat snakes have large eyes.

This species is distinct from rat snakes in the genus Elaphe in that they bear an extra row of scales that separate the eye from the upper lip scales. This is what gives this species its scientific name, subocularis.

Trans-Pecos rat snakes could reach 5.5 feet in length.

Life Cycle

This species is a late breeder, with breeding occurring as late as June, and the eggs being laid in August or September. 3 to 7 eggs are laid per clutch, and incubation lasts 10.5 to 15 weeks. Hatchlings are 11 to 14 inches long, and they will reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.

In the wild, these rat snakes can live 10 to 15 years, but life span could exceed 20 years in captivity.


Chiefly nocturnal, Trans-Pecos rat snakes will spend the day in rock crevices or abandoned burrows

Threats and Conservation Status

This species is not considered endangered.

Did you know…




Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Contributors and Citations

  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters