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Species at Risk

Eastern Ratsnake

Elaphe obsoleta

Why protect the Eastern Ratsnake?

The Eastern Ratsnake has lived in Canada for roughly 7,000 years. It plays an important ecological role, helping to control rodent and bird populations among other things.

Eastern Ratsnake recovery efforts not only benefit the species but can also help us learn a great deal about natural habitats in eastern Ontario, particularly their state of health and potential threats.

Many other species will benefit if we succeed in protecting and improving the health of these habitats. The Carolinian Life Zone, for example, contains not only the Eastern Ratsnake but also over 40% of species designated as threatened or endangered in Canada!

Species at Risk - Who Knew?

The longest known Eastern Ratsnake was 2.5 metres long but despite their size and appearance, this species is not aggressive.

What is Parks Canada doing to save the Eastern Ratsnake?

Parks Canada is a member of the Eastern Ratsnake Recovery Team.

The recovery team’s objectives are to:

  • maintain the Eastern Ratsnake’s current range,
  • prevent further extinctions of local populations, and
  • restore connectivity among isolated populations

The main ways identified to achieve this include:

  • studying the natural habitats, biology and habits of the Eastern Ratsnake to better understand its requirements; and
  • increasing awareness of the species’ situation, to encourage individuals and organizations to get involved in recovery efforts
Two Parks Canada employees with an Eastern Ratsnake; the one on the right is putting a device on the snake’s tail while the one of the left holds the snake.
Parks Canada uses techniques such as telemetry, microchips and genetic analyses to study the snakes’ natural history and monitor populations.
© Parks Canada/1985