- Non-venomous and widespread (except at higher elevations ), Black Racers prey on a variety of small animals. They usually rapidly crawl ("race") away when humans come across them while out hiking.
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in English:
Black Racer, Eastern Racer, Blackmask Racer, Blue Racer, Brownchin Racer, Everglades Racer, Mexican Racer, Northern Black Racer, Racer, Southern Black Racer, Tan Racer, Yellowbelly Racer
Common Names in German:
The family Colubridae, which includes the kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp. ), is the largest, most widespread, and diverse family of snakes , with few physical characteristics universal among all species. The family contains 70 percent of the known species of snakes, with more than 1700 species worldwide (Pough et al. 1998). Although some colubrids are dangerously venomous , most are harmless to humans. 
Species Coluber constrictor
Racers are slender, fast, snakes that range between 3 and 6 ft (.91-1.83 m ) in length . Their scales are smooth and, in North Carolina, both their belly and dorsal side are black. Most individuals have a white chin patch . Young racers are brownish and blotched , and are slender with large eyes.
Young racers show a faint pattern of small blotches.
Most common in open areas such as fields , farms , and wetland margins .
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,602 meters (0 to 15,098 feet).
encompass a wide range
of lowland and montane
deserts, prairies, sandhills
, shrublands, woodlands, forests
streamsides, and semi-agricultural areas. This snake
is absent from
the driest deserts and highest mountains (subalpine
zones and higher).
It commonly climbs shrubs
and small trees
. When inactive
, it hides
underground, in crevices, or under surface cover
communally, sometimes partly submerged in water. Eggs
are laid in
an underground tunnel or burrow, rotting stump
, sawdust pile, or
under a rock. Oviposition sites may be up to at least several hundred
from the usual home range
(Brown and Parker 1976; Iverson
1995, Herpetological Review 26: 147-148).
List of Habitats:
- 1 Forest
- 1.4 Forest - Temperate
- 2 Savanna
- 2.1 Savanna - Dry
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.4 Shrubland - Temperate
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 3.8 Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
- 4 Grassland
- 4.4 Grassland - Temperate
- 4.5 Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 5 Wetlands (inland)
- 5.8 Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
- 5.9 Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
- 6 Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs , mountain peaks)
- 8 Desert
- 8.1 Desert - Hot
- 8.2 Desert - Temperate
- 14 Artificial/Terrestrial
- 14.2 Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland [more info]
Racers will eat almost anything they can catch , including rodents, amphibians , lizards, birds, insects, turtles, and other snakes , even other racers. Racers actively forage during daylight. When hunting, they move rapidly with their head held above the ground . Contrary to the implication of their scientific name, these snakes are not constrictors. Racers will throw a loop of their body over their prey to hold it down , but they do not suffocate their prey prior to eating it.
Racers breed from April to May and lay 5 to 25 eggs between June and August. The egg shells have small bumps , resembling salt, that distinguish them from all other snake eggs in North Carolina. Sometimes several females lay eggs in the same nest .
Racers usually attempt to escape when confronted. If escape is not possible they rapidly vibrate their tail. When this is done in dry leaves the vibration produces a sound resembling a rattlesnake. Racers thrash back and forth and will bite repeatedly when they are captured.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Series: href="http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/title/493 ()
- Suborder: Serpentes () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Order: Squamata ()
- Superorder: Lepidosauria () -
- Infraclass: Lepidosauromorpha ()
- Subclass: Diapsida ()
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Bascanion constrictor Baird &girard 1853: 93 • Bascanion constrictor BOCOURT 1890< /i> (Fide Villa Et Al. 1988) • Bascanium anthicum Cope 1862: 338 • Coluber Constrictor Linnaeus 1758: 216 • Coluber constrictor — Conant & Collins 1991: 183 • Coluber constrictor — Liner 1994 • Coluber constrictor — Stebbins 1985: 180 • Coluber mormon • Coluber ortenburgeri Stuart 1934 • Coluber ortenburgeri — Stuart 1935 • Coryphodon constrictor DumÉril & Bibron 1854: 183 • Zamenis constrictor Boulenger 1893: 387
Status: Accepted Name
First described: Dunn,E.R. and Wood ,G.C. Notes on eastern snakes of the genus Coluber. Notulae Naturae Philadelphia, No. 5: 1-4, 1939.
Western populations have been proposed to constitute a distinct species, Coluber mormon (Fitch et al. 1981), but this distinction has been demonstrated to be invalid (Corn and Bury 1986; see also Greene 1984)..
Black Rat Snakes have a "rougher" look because they have keeled scales.
Members of the genus Coluber
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 33 species and subspecies in this genus:
C. andreanus (Andreas' Racer) · C. bholanathi (Sharma's Racer) · C. brevis (Short Racer) · C. constrictor (Eastern Racer) · C. constrictor anthicus (Buttermilk Racer) · C. constrictor constrictor (Northern Black Racer) · C. constrictor etheridgei (Tan Racer) · C. constrictor flaviventris (Eastern Yellowbelly Racer) · C. constrictor foxii (Blue Racer) · C. constrictor helvigularis (Brown Chin Racer) · C. constrictor latrunculus (Black-Masked Racer) · C. constrictor oaxaca (Mexican Racer) · C. constrictor paludicola (Everglades Racer) · C. constrictor priapus (Southern Black Racer) · C. elegantissimus (Elegant Racer) · C. flagellum (Coachwhip) · C. flagellum flagellum (Eastern Coachwhip) · C. florulentus (Flowered Racer) · C. florulentus florulentus (Flowered Racer) · C. gracilis (Graceful Racer) · C. karelini (Spotted Desert Racer) · C. mentovarius (Neotropical Whip Snake) · C. messanai (Schatti's Racer) · C. mormon mormon (Western Yellow-Bellied Racer) · C. najadum (Ghamcheh Snake) · C. najadum najadum (Ghamcheh Snake) · C. rogersi (Rogers' Racer) · C. sinai (Sinai Racer.) · C. smithi (Smith's Racer) · C. thomasi (Thomas' Semi-Banded Racer) · C. variabilis (Variable Snake) · C. ventromaculatus (Hardwicke's Rat Snake) · C. ventromaculatus ventromaculatus (Hardwicke's Rat Snake)
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