- A-Z Animals
Black Racer snake, also known as the Southern black racer, or the Black Runner, is a common species of serpents mostly found in and around the southern regions of the United States. Black racer snakes are non-venomous. These snakes are basically timid by nature and are mostly harmless, if not attacked or threatened.
|Coluber constrictor priapus|
|Coluber constrictor priapus|
Size: The average size of black racer snakes is 20-56 inches. The maximum length of an adult black racer can go up to 70 inches approximately.
Body: They have a slim body, covered with smooth scales, with 17 rows of dorsal scales in the middle of their body.
Color: The black racer is marked with dull colors all over its body. Their dorsal side is black, contrasted with a grey belly and a white jaw-line and throat. The juvenile black racer is usually grey in color, with clear reddish-brown blotches, that fade into a solid-colored tail.
Vision: These snakes are considered to be color blind.
Black racers are very common in the Southern part of the United States. It is widely spread throughout the mainland of Florida, as also the Florida keys. Outside Florida, it is also found throughout the Eastern regions of the US, from NE Texas.
These non-poisonous snakes are mainly found in grasslands, bushy areas, prairies, scrub, sandhills, and considerably wooded areas.
The Black Racers usually prey upon rodents, like rats, insects, other smaller snakes, moles, lizards, frogs and toads, and even birds and bird eggs. They have a huge appetite, as compared to other snakes in the area. Ecologically, their dietary habits are garden-friendly since they prey upon many such animals, which actually stand as enemy to the garden plants and crops.
The locomotion of these creatures is extremely quick. They can glide, swim, and climb at an unbelievably quick speed. They are very skilled swimmers and opportunistic predators.
Predators, such as hawks and other birds prey upon Black Racer snakes. Even domestic dogs and domestic cats are their predators.
Humans are the biggest threat to these snakes. A large number of these creatures are either killed by car accidents or are intentionally killed out of fear, or at times, even by mistake for their close resemblance to another type of venomous snakes in the area, Water Moccasin.
Baby Black Racers camouflage themselves according to their places of habitat. Because these snakes dwell mostly in grassy or woody areas, they are often found in a curled position, resembling a fallen branch.
The adults have a characteristic defense mechanism. When in danger, the snake vibrates its tail in dense grass generating a sound similar to a rattle snake’s rattles.
Their ability to move a climb at incredible speeds comes handy since they often live in areas with human habitation, and are daytime hunters. This speed in locomotion has been particularly possible for their natural smooth skin and scales.
Black Racer snakes usually shed their skin once a year.
The mating season of these serpents is the springtime, mostly between late April and the first half of June. Their breeding season extends from June to early July. Male Black Racers become sexually ready between the age of 1 and 2 years, whereas the female’s age of sexual maturity is between 2 and 3 years.
The total number of baby black racers that can take birth at a time is a wide range varying between 3 and 32. During birth, the juvenile Black Racers are 6 inches long. The adult snakes do not feed their babies nor protect them. The baby Black Racer mostly survives by the process of camouflage.
Like most other snake species, the black racers hibernate in underground shelters during the coldest winter months (around late October), and emerge in mid-March. These snakes hibernate in large numbers and with other species of snakes. Their hibernation mostly occurs in rock crevices or old burrows by the hillsides. The snakes bask outside of the den for weeks beforehand. The black racers can often use the same den for many years.
The creatures can live up to 10 years both in the wild, as also in captivity.
The IUCN Red List has included this snake under the ‘least concern’ status. This species of snake is pretty much abundant in some places. However, the Canadian province of Ontario has given it some legal protection, because of the gradual decrease in its count. These snakes have also become very uncommon in Michigan.
The Black Racer cannot become a good pet because it can never get over its nervous disposition.