North American Black Racer (Coluber constrictor)
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Black Racers are long, slender snakes. Adult Black Racers have a solid black to blue-gray dorsal surface. Their belly is also solid gray-black with a white patch on chin and throat. They have a shiny appearance due to their unkeeled scales. Juvenile Black Racers have a gray to blue-gray dorsum mottled with dark grey, brown, or rust colored blotches down the center of the back. Their anal plate is divided.
A typical sized adult is 3 feet in total length. Some individuals may reach 6 feet.
Black Racers are found throughout Kentucky and are common in many habitat types. These snakes are most abundant in pastures, brushy areas, around wetlands and other aquatic habitats, and along forest edges.
Black Racers are diurnal (active during the day) and actively search for prey. They consume rodents, lizards, birds, frogs, insects, and other snake species. Black Racers often ascend shrubs and trees to either pursue prey or avoid danger. These snakes mate in spring and lay around 20 eggs, which hatch in late summer-early fall. Racer eggs can be differentiated from those of other snakes because they are covered by small, salt-like granules (but see Eastern Coachwhip). Black Racers are preyed upon by hawks, Kingsnakes and some mammals.
Black Racers usually respond to danger by rapidly fleeing (hence the name “Racer”). Indeed, these snakes are quite difficult to chase down and capture. When cornered, they will vibrate their tails and strike. Even though its scientific name suggests so, these snakes do not constrict their prey. Instead, prey are chewed and swallowed alive.