Blue Racer Snake

The Blue Racers are a subspecies of the Coluber constrictor or Eastern Racer Snakes. These non-venomous snakes belong to the Colubridae family. They are found in various regions of North America. Previously, there was some controversy about designating the Blue Racers as a distinct subspecies. Some people believed they should belong to the “yellow-bellied racer” subspecies. But now the Blue Racers have been accepted as a separate sub-species of the Eastern Racers.

Description

This large snake has an attractive coloration. Here is their general description:

Length: Their snout-to-vent length ranges between 90 cm and 152 cm. Hatchlings are 8 inches to 13 inches long.

Color: The underbellies or ventral sides of their bodies are covered with creamy white scales. The color of the scales covering their backsides varies from brilliant blue to dull grey. They have light brown to grey dorsum. Hatchlings of these Racers have dark blotches on their backs.

Scales: They have smooth scales without keels. Their anal plates are divided.

Eyes: Their eyes are larger compared to that of many other species of snakes. The skin around their eyes is generally darker in color than the rest of the body.

Snouts: They have brownish orange snouts.

Blue Racer Snake Picture Picture 1 – Blue Racer Snake

Distribution

The range of their distribution extends from Canada in north to Guatemala, Mexico and Belize in south. This Racer snake is found throughout United States and the eastern regions of the Rocky Mountains. Their distribution range includes Pelee Island, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Habitat

These reptiles can be found in open as well as semi-open habitats. They prefer to live in savannas, hedge rows, meadows, weedy lake edges and marshes. It is believed that all these habitats are necessary for fulfilling their ecological requirements. The range of their habitation extends to an area of 25 acres.

Diet

Adult Blue Racers feed on various songbirds, rodents, smaller snakes and frogs. Different insects such as spiders, worms and crickets are the foods of the Blue Racer Snake hatchlings and juveniles.

Behavior

Find out about the behavior patterns of the Blue Racers:

  • They are diurnal in nature, being active during daytime.
  • They prefer to spend most of their time on ground.
  • A large number of Blue Racers can live in single habitat as they are not territorial in nature.
  • These snakes are very active as foragers.
  • They are known to forage both on ground and trees.
  • The Blue Racer Snakes are very intolerant of human activity. Due to this reason they prefer to live in areas with little human habitation.
  • While foraging, they hold their heads up and move very fast through underbrushes.
  • These Snakes tend to escape into small trees and bushes if threatened.
  • They can inflict a painful bite if cornered and annoyed.
  • When threatened, the Blue Racers vibrate their tails to make a buzzing sound that works as a warning for other snakes of this species.

Predators

Large birds of prey including northern harrier, red-tailed hawk and great horned owl are known to prey on this snake. Other predators include Coyotes, Raccoons, Foxes, Dogs and various wild Cats. The Blue Racer hatchlings and eggs are the prey of various carnivorous birds and mammals.

Adaptations

They have the following adaptive features to help them survive in their natural habitat.

  • These Racer snakes can move very fast. This helps them to catch prey and to avoid being preyed on.
  • They are great climbers and can easily climb on large trees to hunt or to hide from predators.
  • Their strong eyesight also helps them in hunting.

Mating Season

Their mating season starts around April and continues through May.

Reproduction

Female Blue Racer Snakes mature at 2 years of age, but they cannot reproduce until they become three years old. The males become physiologically mature at 11 months. But they are able to reproduce only after reaching 2 years of age. These oviparous snakes generally reproduce twice every year. The females build their nests in sand, tree cavities, leaf litters and unoccupied burrows of small mammals. They lay 6 to 25 eggs in communal dens during late June and leave the dens afterwards.

Photos of Blue Racer Snake Picture 2 – Blue Racer Snake Photo

Life Cycle

The Blue Racer Snake eggs hatch in August or early September. These white, oval eggs are 2.5 cm to 3.9 cm long with leathery shells. Hatchlings use their “egg tooth” to cut their way out of the eggs. The hatchlings do not receive any parental care, but they may remain near the female Blue Racers for a few hours after birth.

Lifespan

Their lifespan ranges from 15 years to 20 years.

Hibernation

They are known to hibernate in groups during the cold winter months. Hibernation generally takes place in rocky mountain areas.

Blue Racer Snakes as Pets

These snakes are generally not kept as pets for their aggressive nature. They tend to attack and bite anyone who approaches them. Their large size also makes it difficult to keep them in glass tanks or cages. Due to these reasons, they do not make good pets.

Conservation Status

The Blue Racers are included in the “Endangered” category by the IUCN. They are on the Endangered Species List of Ontario since 1971 and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Among the areas protected for these Racer Snakes, the Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve and the Stone Road Alvar Complex are most important.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about this Racer Snake:

  • It is one of the largest Snakes found in Ontario.
  • The length of the largest recorded Blue Racer found in the Pelee Island was 138 cm.
  • These Snakes can proceed at a speed of approximately 7 km per hours.
  • They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes because of the buzzing sound they make by vibrating their tails.

Pictures

Here are some images of these racer snakes.

Pictures of Blue Racer Snake Picture 3 - Blue Racer Snake Picture

Images of Blue Racer Snake Picture 4 - Blue Racer Snake Image

References:

http://www.ontarionature.org/protect/species/reptiles_and_amphibians/blue_racer.php

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-61219–,00.html

http://www.ehow.com/info_8687274_blue-racer-snakes-kansas.html

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12201-61208–,00.html

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/CW69-14-173-2003E.pdf

6 thoughts on “Blue Racer Snake

  1. klreed30 August 25, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    people always told me blue racers don’t live in this part of states. yes they do , when i was 12 years old i saw two blue racers in south webster,ohio

  2. Wanda Major February 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Twice in my life I’ve had a pretty pale blue,clear looking snake, no stripes, race right TOWARD me. Once was in about 1952 in the sandhills of Nebraska beside a cattle tank and the second on a sandy road in the sandhills in about 1959. Being scared I ran! My question is, would those have been blue racers and are they normally in any way aggressive like that? Neither snake could have helped but have heard and seen me.

    • Craig June 28, 2014 at 10:37 am #

      Contrary to what I have read, blue racers can be a bit aggressive. They use to race toward us on my grandfather’s farm in Ohio. Two of us were bitten on the heels by the little suckers.

  3. Vicki Pigg April 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    We had several here last year but I think the dog got a lot of them, this morning I saw one go under my deck near the water hose. I have told everyone to leave them alone since they help to keep rodent population in check.

  4. Aaron Johnson September 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    I was walking home from school one day and found this pretty bluish purple snake on the ground. it had a very light bluish white belly. Very pretty snake to see. It also was about 20-22inches long.

  5. Jeff August 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Scales Nature Park just south of Orillia, Ontario Canada has become the first facility to successfully breed Blue Racers. For more information, check out http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/rare-and-endangered-blue-snakes-born-in-oro-medonte-1.1960645

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