black rat snake


plural black rat snakes
: a common, heavy-bodied rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus obsoletus synonym Pantherophis obsoleta obsoleta synonym Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) chiefly of the eastern and central U.S. that is black with a white throat and sometimes white showing between the scales, typically reaches over five feet (1.5 meters) in length, and feeds on birds and small animals (such as mice, rats, and frogs)

Note: In alternative classification systems, black rat snake is used synonymously with either the eastern rat snake or the western rat snake.

called also blacksnake, black snake

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web After encountering a black rat snake inside the Affelder House at 10 a.m. April 10, the decorating and set-up crew for a baby shower called police for help in extracting it. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 20 Apr. 2022 The snake – a black rat snake – sparked panic in the travelers passing through the terminal, the Independent reports. Fox News, 16 Sep. 2018 Sounds like a juvenile black rat snake, very beneficial for keeping down rodents. Ellen Nibali,, 5 July 2018 Animal control captured a black rat snake that was found in a garage and released it outside. Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black rat snake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1888, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black rat snake was in 1888

Dictionary Entries Near black rat snake

Cite this Entry

“Black rat snake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?