rat snake


plural rat snakes
: any of various large, nonvenomous, colubrid snakes (as of the genera Elaphe, Pantherophis, Coelognatuhus) that feed chiefly on rodents (such as mice and rats) and birds

called also chicken snake

see black rat snake, eastern rat snake, red rat snake, western rat snake

Examples of rat snake in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The rat snakes’ gape could only expand by about 19 percent. Kate Golembiewski, New York Times, 31 Aug. 2023 Pancho and Lefty are a little smaller than a typical 8-year-old rat snake, at around 2 to 3 feet long, but the snake is in overall good health and eats well, Michels-Boyce said. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, 10 Aug. 2023 Michels-Boyce told The Dallas Morning News that Pancho and Lefty are around 2 to 3 feet long — smaller than an average 8-year-old rat snake — but overall remain in good health. Michael Lee Simpson, Peoplemag, 11 Aug. 2023 The rat snakes are common in Texas and usually prey on chicken eggs. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 14 Apr. 2023 Various rat snakes are also known for eating a bunch of bird eggs, as are bull snakes, kingsnakes, and eastern racers. Sofia Quaglia, Discover Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023 The same is true for snakes like the Texas rat snake or the western coachwhip, neither of which can sense infrared. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 14 Mar. 2010 The Texas rat snake can be up to five feet long but is completely harmless. Dallas News, 3 Aug. 2022 The birds can fly in and out, but their principal predator, the rat snake, is prevented from entering by this sticky mess. Pamela Weintraub, Discover Magazine, 28 Apr. 2011

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rat snake.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rat snake was in 1818

Dictionary Entries Near rat snake

Cite this Entry

“Rat snake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rat%20snake. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

rat snake

: any of various large nonpoisonous snakes that eat rodents and birds and that kill their prey by squeezing and suffocating it

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