Adults often reach up to 5 feet (152 cm). These long, active snakes are a uniform black or dark gray without pattern, usually with some white on their chin and throat. The head is narrow in proportion to the body. Scales are smooth. Juveniles are blotched gray or brown on a bluish gray background.
Lays up to 24 eggs in June or early July.
Racers occupy a wide range of habitats, but are usually found close to undergrowth or other protective shelters to which they flee if provoked.
Racers eat a variety of prey. Small mammals, birds, frogs, reptiles and insects are included in their diet.
Found in every state east of the Mississippi River. The Northern Black Racer is found as far west as central Ohio, south through the Appalachians, and north into southern Maine. In Connecticut it can be found in all counties.
Not federally protected.
This snake will usually flee when approached, but will strike aggressively if harassed. It is harmless, but can create gashing wounds with its strike-and-slash bite pattern.
Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Text by Chad Arment.
Photograph © Suzanne L. Collins. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Animal featured on this page is from Kentucky.