Identifying the Black Racer Snake of North America

The black racer is a snake that many people encounter in the back yard, and as such has taken on quite the reputation. The black racer has been rumored to be capable of incredible feats that no snake is capable of. For example, one myth says the black racer is capable of grabbing it’s tail in it’s mouth and rolling down a hill after you. Such silly snake myths get started when a particular snake is so common, though nobody can put their finger on why that is.

The truth of the black racer is far less exciting, but interesting just the same. This snake is generally found in the Eastern part of the United States, and is actually quite hard to correctly identify. The reason for this is because the black racer is very similar to other species of snakes found in the same regions. The hognose snake is very similar save for a funny looking nose, as are some species of kingsnake. These snakes are all usually black, but the black racer has some characteristics that make it stand out.

One of the first things you should know about a black racer is that they are very fast. The black racer can move at speeds that dwarf many other snakes, including the ones noted above. The black racer is also a very accomplished climber, and can climb most any surface. It can climb a tree in seconds, and will do so when cornered or threatened with no hesitation. The black racer does not use this speed to chase people, however, no matter what you have been told. The black racer will always speed away from you if given an opening to do so.

If you do corner a black racer, you will be in for one heck of a fight. The black racer is a ferocious biter, in that they will do so with reckless abandon if they feel threatened. They not only bite readily, they bite quickly. The strike speed of a black racer is blindingly fast. While they are not venomous snakes, the bite of a black racer is no walk in the park. They do have teeth, and their is always the chance of infection.

The black racer will also hiss loudly when encountered. This is a mimic action that is meant to intimidate you into leaving it alone. If you have never encountered a black racer before, then you are very likely to be surprised at the volume this snake can produce with this hissing noise. It is the classic snake hiss.

The black racer is also identified by the cream colored chin they sport. They have a cream or white coloring under their mouths that is very easily identified. The rest of the black racer’s body is uniformly black in color. The top of the snake is shiny black, and the underside is usually a flatter black.

The black racer is about four to five feet most often, and can grow to be fairly thick in comparison to other snakes in the area. This size is well distributed and gives the snake a very healthy appearance.

The black racer is found pretty much everywhere, and can adapt to most any environment quite well. They prefer open fields and forests, but will certainly head into the suburbs to get a meal. This leads to the many encounters that you hear about with the black racer.


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