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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 According to Alabama Wildlife, the gray rat snake, also known as a chicken snake or oat snake, is commonly found throughout southern states. Sarah Rumpf, Fox News, 24 Sep. 2022 While certainly startling to any homeowner, the snake was a non-venomous gray rat snake. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, 19 Sep. 2022 Walking past cicada exoskeletons hanging from tree branches, a leaping fawn and a rat snake, Dana picked a cicada off a branch, inspected its underside, looked into its zombie eyes and flicked it forward to send it flying off again. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, 17 June 2021 Luckily for a 5½-foot Eastern rat snake, a Virginia woman noticed something was amiss. Washington Post, 1 May 2021 See More

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 30 May. 2023.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on rat snake

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