Growing to a significant size, this subspecies has a strong inclination to climb. Russian rat snakes make fascinating display animals, especially when kept in a seminatural vivarium. They don’t mind hanging out in plain sight, and they exhibit an awareness of their surroundings that’s a refreshing change from many other popular snakes. Many snakekeepers would say they have personality.
Juvenile Russian rat snakes are clad in brown or gray with light cross-bands. They are rather dirty-looking and, unlike most captive-bred snakes, can hardly be called attractive.
As adults, Russian rat snakes are usually black or dark brown with yellow or cream bands. In a way, their markings look like an eastern kingsnake with one significant difference: the bright yellow that often adorns an adult’s face. This coloration, particularly on the upper and lower labial scales, gives these snakes eye-catching contrast.
Besides its contrasting markings, the Russian rat snake’s size makes it an impressive animal to behold. It can attain an adult length of 6 feet and has been known to occasionally reach 8 feet.