Loma Alta Baird's Rat Snake Elaphe bairdi

Below:  Orange and purple male from our colony

Loma Alta Baird's Rat Snake Elaphe bairdi

Once rare in captivity, the Baird's rat snake has become more and more popular in recent years as snake keepers have discovered its beauty and docile nature. In fact, its temperment and ease of care put it right up with corn snakes E. guttata and Florida king snakes Lampropeltis getula floridana as some of the best pet snakes.

Below:  Silver and purple female from our colony

Loma Alta Baird's Rat Snake Elaphe bairdi

The Baird's rat snake was once included in the Elaphe obsoleta group, but has been elevated to full species status by taxonomists. Interestingly, it has more of a superficial resemblance to the striped yellow (E. o. quadrivittata) and Everglades rat snakes (E. o. rossalleni) of the southeast than its close neighbor the Texas rat snake (E. o. lindheimeri). The complex background coloration of bairdi, which can include shades of red, orange, silver, and even purple, is one of the features that makes this species so interesting.

Below: Wild caught yearling from Loma Alta

Loma Alta Baird's Rat Snake Elaphe bairdi Val Verde County, TX

 As in E. obsoleta, baby bairdi have dark blotches on a gray background. They start to show hints of their adult coloration at around one year old. Our Baird's rats are descended from outstanding specimens wild caught along TX 277 near Loma Alta, Texas, a locality famous for its gray banded king snakes Lampropeltis alterna, but equally noteworthy for its outstanding bairdi

Below: A captive bred baby from our colony

Loma Alta Baird's Rat Elaphe bairdi Juvenile 



In the Wild

If any area could be considered a Mecca for North American field herpers, it would be West Texas. This area is home to Baird's rat snakes as well as gray banded king snakes, mottled rock rattlesnakes, Trans Pecos rat snakes, and many other interesting herps. The tiny hamlet of Loma Alta in Val Verde County lies on the eastern edge of the semi arid Trans Pecos region (though it is still east of the Pecos River).

Below: Water sources in the fractured habitat of this part of the Trans Pecos make it hospitable habitat for Baird's rat snakes

Val Verde County, TX

Closely affiliated with Elaphe obsoleta of the eastern forests, E. bairdi is essentially an eastern form living on the extreme edge of its biological capacity. Most of the habitat of the Trans Pecos region is not suitable for Baird's rat snakes. These snakes prefer riparian corridors and fractured  rocky areas near water sources. Val Verde County provides some of the best habitat in the region. Even there, they are not abundant. Collectors find Baird's rat snakes at night crossing Highway 277 as well as climbing on the  rock cuts along the road. Though "shining the cuts" at night is a preferred method of collecting in this area, many of the cuts are so big that a snake spotted high on a cut may be impossible to capture. 

Below: Bill Love waves from near the base of an impressive rock cut along Hwy 277

Bill Love Rock Cut Val Verde County, TX



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