By William T. Hathaway


When most of us refer to an encounter with a blacksnake, we probably came across the Black Rat Snake, also known as the “pilot blacksnake.” This snake tends to kink its body and remain still if not threatened. The other “blacksnake,” the Black Racer, tends to flee if approached from a considerable distance. Black Rat Snakes are excellent climbers, but remain still when discovered far above the ground; whereas the Black Racer becomes alert and active.

On one of our field trips along a woodland path near Spring Garden in Pittsylvania County there came a frighteningly loud scream. One of the hikers had come face-to-face with a climbing snake.

Many students had seen climbing snakes on the Discovery Channel. However, to walk up on a Black Rat Snake (shoulder-high and wrapped around a small white oak tree) was a bit too much! After a good chuckle, fears fell by the wayside, and the hikers were on their way again.

(See also other snakes.)