• By Phyllis B. Smith
  • Posted Monday, May 27, 2019

Another Black Rat Snake, Right? Wrong!


The snake shown here is a black racer, Coluber constrictor, a common state-wide resident. With the exception of a white chin, black racers are typically solid black both above and below, unlike the black rat snakes of Piedmont N.C. which display a ventral (underside) surface that’s usually checkered black and white. Racers also tend to be slimmer, a trait that aids in their ability to move swiftly. In addition to feeding on rodents and other small animals, they have been known to eat other snakes, including copperheads. Although non-venomous, black racers have a reputation for assertively defending themselves and will bite repeatedly if handled. As with other snakes, they are best left alone. If you’re lucky enough to spot one in the wild step back and try to record the experience in a photograph. But you’ll need to work quickly before this slender beauty darts away to seek protective cover. After all, snakes are afraid of people. Tune in next week to learn about a new snake!

Visit the Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina website, maintained by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab and click on any “Snakes” thumbnail for more details.

N.C. State University Extension offers the publication Reptiles and Amphibians in Your Backyard. Download, or drop by the Forsyth County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension at 1450 Fairchild Road in Winston-Salem to pick up a free copy.

Source: Dorcas, D. (2005). A Guide to Snakes of North Carolina. Davidson College Herpetology Lab, Davidson, N.C.

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