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Coluber constrictor

coluber constrictor, coluber constrictor priapus
Coluber constrictor is a species of nonvenomous, colubrid snake, endemic to North America and Central America Eleven subspecies, including the nominotypical subspecies, are recognized, which as a group are commonly referred to as the eastern racers


  • 1 Geographic range
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Behavior
  • 4 Habitat
  • 5 Reproduction
  • 6 Symbol
  • 7 Subspecies
  • 8 Gallery
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Geographic rangeedit

They are primarily found throughout the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, but they range north into Canada and south into Mexico, Guatemala and Belize


Adult eastern racers can typically vary from 50 to 152 cm 20 to 60 in in total length depending on the subspecies, but a record-sized specimen measured 1854 cm 730 in in total length345 A typical adult specimen will weigh around 556 g 1226 lb, with little size difference between the sexes6 The patterns vary widely between subspecies Most are solid-colored as their common names imply: black racers, brown racers, tan racers, blue racers, or green racers "Runner" is sometimes used instead of "racer" in their common names All subspecies have a lighter-colored underbelly: white, light tan, or yellow in color Juveniles are more strikingly patterned, with a middorsal row of dark blotches on a light ground color The tail is unpatterned As they grow older, the dorsum darkens and the juvenile pattern gradually disappears3


Closeup of the head of Coluber constrictor mormon

Racers are fast moving, highly active, diurnal snakes Their diet consists primarily of small rodents, frogs, toads, lizards and other snakes7 Some subspecies are known to climb trees in order to eat eggs and young birds Juveniles often consume soft-bodied insects, such as crickets and mothscitation needed Despite their specific name, constrictor, they do not really employ constriction, instead simply subduing struggling prey by pinning it bodily, pressing one or two coils against it to hold it in place instead of actually suffocating it Most smaller prey items are simply swallowed alive

They are curious snakes with excellent vision and are sometimes seen raising their head above the height of the grass they are crawling in to view what is around them Aptly named, racers are very fast and typically flee from a potential predator However, once cornered they put up a vigorous fight, biting hard and often They are difficult to handle and will writhe, defecate and release a foul smelling musk from their cloaca Vibrating their tails among dry leaves, racers can sound convincingly like rattlesnakes8


Frequently near water but also in brush, trash piles, roadsides, swamps, suburbia; it is the most common snake in residential neighborhoods in Florida It spends most of its time on the ground, but it is a good tree climber and may be found in shrubs and trees where bird nests can be raided for eggs and chicks, as well as small adult birds such as finches, canaries and thatchers

Most racers prefer open, grassland type habitat where their keen eyesight and speed can be readily used, but they are also found in light forest and even semi-arid regions They are usually not far from an area of cover to hide in


Mating takes place in the spring, from April until early June Around a month later the female will lay anywhere from 3 to 30 eggs in a hidden nest site such as a hollow log, an abandoned rodent burrow, or under a rock The 8-10" 20–26 cm long juvenile racers hatch in the early fall Maturity is reached in approximately 2 years Racers have been known to lay their eggs in communal sites, where a number of snakes, even those from other species, all lay their eggs together


"The black racer snake was adopted because it is native to all 88 Ohio counties and is called the 'farmer's friend' because it eats disease-carrying rodents" Ohio Governor's Residence9

The northern black racer is the state reptile of Ohio10


Northern Black Racer, C c constrictor
  • Coluber constrictor anthicus Cope, 1862 - buttermilk racer
  • Coluber constrictor constrictor Linnaeus, 1758 - northern black racer
  • Coluber constrictor etheridgei Wilson, 1970 - tan racer
  • Coluber constrictor flaviventris Say, 1823 - eastern yellow-bellied racer
  • Coluber constrictor foxii Baird & Girard, 1853 - blue racer
  • Coluber constrictor helvigularis Auffenberg, 1955 - brown-chinned racer
  • Coluber constrictor latrunculus Wilson, 1970 - black-masked racer
  • Coluber constrictor oaxaca Jan, 1863 - Mexican racer
  • Coluber constrictor paludicola Auffenberg & Babbitt, 1955 - Everglades racer
  • Coluber constrictor priapus Dunn & Wood, 1939 - southern black racer
  • Coluber constrictor mormon Baird & Girard, 1852 - western yellow-bellied racer11



  1. ^ Stejneger, LH, and T Barbour 1917 A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts 125 pp Coluber constrictor, p 79
  2. ^ The Reptile Database wwwreptile-databaseorg
  3. ^ a b Conant, Roger 1975 A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition Houghton Mifflin Boston 429 pp ISBN 0-395-19977-8 paperback Coluber consrictor constrictor, pp 178-179 + Plate 26 + Map 139
  4. ^ "Species profile: Minnesota DNR" Dnrstatemnus Retrieved 31 May 2013 
  5. ^ "Southern Black Racer, Racer Florida Museum" Flmnhufledu Retrieved 31 May 2013 
  6. ^ Habitat Use and Thermal Ecology of Ratsnakes Elaphe Obsoleta and Racers - Gerardo L F Carfagno - Google Books Booksgooglecom Retrieved 31 May 2013 
  7. ^ "Corkscrew's common snakes: Black Racer Coluber constrictor priapus" Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Retrieved 31 May 2013 
  8. ^ School of Computer Science "UMass Amherst: The College of Natural Sciences" Umassedu Retrieved 31 May 2013 
  9. ^ "Ohio's state symbols" Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden Retrieved 13 February 2011 
  10. ^ "5031 State reptile" LAWriter: Ohio Laws and Rles Lawriter LLC 2008 Retrieved 22 January 2011 
  11. ^ Eastern and Western Yellow-bellied Racers, COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report

External linksedit

  • Coluber Constrictor, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  • "Black Snakes": Identification and Ecology - University of Florida fact sheet
  • Coluber Constrictor, University of Michigan, Animal Diversity Web
  • Racer, Reptiles and Amphibians of Iowa
  • Species Coluber constrictor at The Reptile Database
  •  "Blacksnake" Encyclopedia Americana 1920 

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Coluber constrictor

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