The chicken, or rat snake, is typically three to five feet long, completely black with hints of white between its scales and a white chin. The rat snake has a wedge-shaped head.
Black rat snake hatchlings are pale grey in color and are often mistaken for copperheads because of similar patterns and markings. Hatchlings develop their darker, black color as they mature.
Rat snakes range from New England to Florida, west to the eastern half of Texas and north to southern Wisconsin. They are agile and excellent climbers and are often found in trees. Rat snakes are primarily known as rodent eaters, but adult rat snakes also prey upon moles, chipmunks and other small rodents, as well as bird eggs and fledglings. They acquired the name “chicken snake” because of their presence in and around barns and in farming areas, where they are useful in controlling pest populations.