When it comes to the name of a snake, there is no doubt that Black Racer is very accurate, because it is certainly black, and it moves particularly quickly when it needs to. The species is part of a larger group of snakes which is found across the country, but mainly in the area to the east of the Rocky Mountains. These snakes kill their prey by constriction, and the Black Racer specifically is divided into the Northern Black Racer (Coluber Constrictor Constrictor) and the Southern Black Racer (Coluber Constrictor Priapus).
Appearance And Diet
The Black Racer can grow up to five feet in length, but most examples will be around three and a half feet in length. The snake has smooth black scales covering the majority of the body, and some of these snakes will have some white coloring under the chin or on the underside of the body. They are commonly mistaken for the Black Rat Snake, which is generally found further north.
Black Racers are constrictors, but they generally eat their prey alive without constricting the animal first. They will hunt their prey by sight, and their fast nature covering the ground means that they will usually catch any animals that they see, which can include birds, rodents and lizards. They are also known to eat other snakes where they can catch them, and their speed and agility means that they can even chase their prey up a tree to catch them.
Behavior And Habitat
Many of the larger snakes will usually freeze when they are encountered by people, but Black Racers will usually use their speed to flee rapidly. They do not like a confrontation, but if there is no alternative then they are known to attack and to try and bite if there is no route of escape. Although many black snakes will usually be nocturnal, the Black Racers are only active during the day, mainly because of the fact that they hunt by sight. They will usually look to hide in a burrow or under cover during the evening and night.
The Black Racers can be found in many states, with the highest populations to be found in South Carolina and Georgia. They will usually be most comfortable in the transition habitats, such as on the edge of a forest or around the edge of a marshy area. The adaptability of the Black Racer means that they have been very successful and have adapted to many different types of habitat, which has led to large populations of these snakes in many areas.
Reproduction And Growth Cycle
As generally solitary animals, the Black Racers will mate in the spring as the temperature increases, and females will lay a large nest of up to 36 eggs in the early summer. These eggs will then hatch a few months later, generally in the late summer. One interesting aspect is that Black Racers have been known to lay eggs in communal nests where many snakes, even those from different species lay their eggs together.
When they hatch the young Black Racers will be between eight and ten inches long, and will lack the distinctive black color, usually being grey or even tan in hue. These snakes will grow gradually until they are two years old when they will usually be fully grown, but will have taken on the distinctive appearance in the three or four months after they hatch. One significant feature of the young Black Racers is that they do have larger eyes than other juvenile snakes, probably because the species is much more reliant on excellent sight in order to hunt.
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