Tiny serpent, fierce display. Juvenile black rat snake.
Rat snakes today are often encountered around structures - barns, abandoned houses, even occupied homes in rural settings. Of North Carolina's 30-40 native snakes, the black rat snake is probably one of the least-maligned; perhaps because the adults' dark, generally patternless form is not immediately associated with its venomous kin in the mind of the casual observer.
This juvenile has not yet transitioned to its darker garb, but at it has inherited its forebears' arboreal habit.
Long before there were hen houses and rodent-filled haylofts to climb, the black rat snake was pursuing its prey (or escaping its pursuers) in the treetops.
As this youngster demonstrates, no limbs are no impediment for this reptilian, giving the term "scale a tree" a different twist.
What goes up, must come down; an adult black rat snake demonstrates a typical limbless descent.
Whether flitting through the foliage or gliding gracefully along the ground, the black rat snake must daily make the most of dramatic habitat changes throughout its historic range if it is to reach the age of sexual maturity and do its part to perpetuate the species.