This one was coiled around some tree limbs near the summit of Compton Peak.
Many ignorant or barbaric people kill these snakes on sight, mistaking them for venomous cottonmouths (water moccasins), or just because they hate snakes or enjoy killing things.
Growing up to four feet long, perhaps longer, the black rat snake is not venomous, but it does like to bite, and I have been bitten by a few over the years (they do not have fangs, but they do have small teeth which are sharp enough to draw blood; the teeth help the snake grasp its prey while swallowing it). They are welcomed by most farmers because they prey on rodents.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia-- October 2007