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  • Raleigh Educational Article of the Month - The Black Race Snake

The Black Race Snake

The Black Race Snake

The physical characteristics of this Raleigh snake are:
• Black dorsal side
• Grey belly

When they are much younger, they may appear different than their adult versions.
They are either:
• Tan
• Gray
• Series of brown and/or red blotches at the center of the black

It's scientific name is Coluber constrictor priapus. It is considered as one of the most common non-venomous snakes in southern US. Despite the constrictor part in it's scientific name, this is a bit false. A black racer snake does indeed share some similar characteristics with constrictors but the most common characteristics of constrictor are absent in a North Carolina black racer. A good example of this is - Raleigh black racers do not coil around and suffocate it's prey in order to kill it.

Life Cycle
Black racer snakes, in the wild especially, can live more than ten years. Their mating season begins during the spring time, around late April to early June. Then, sometime in June or early July, the female black racer snake will lay her eggs (3-32 in number) in a secluded and secure nesting site. When the eggs start to hatch in August or early September, the young North Carolina black racers will come out at 7.5 to 14 inches long. Male black racer snakes often mature much faster than their female counterparts. A male black racer will take only one to two years to fully sexually mature while it would take two to threes for a female black racer to do the same.

This kind of snake prefer the dry and sunny climate with enough environmental cover.
These would include:
• Fields
• Open woodland
• Hedgerows
• Thickets
• Edges of woods

However, when none of these areas are available, they may instead choose places such as:
• Bogs
• Marshes
• Edges of lakes
During the long winter months, most black racers will spend their time in their shelters that protect them from the cold and harsh temperatures outside.

Like most snakes, black racers are carnivores and will a variety of meat such as:
• Insects
• Spiders
• Frogs
• Reptiles (lizards and other snakes as well as their eggs)
• Rodents
• Shrews
• Birds (as well as their eggs)
• Squirrels
• Rabbits
• Turtles
As was previously mentioned, black racers are NOT in fact constrictors but prefer to loop it's body around it's victim once, press it down with its body while it tries to swallow it's victim whole.

The actual speed of a Raleigh black racer isn't so fast really. In fact, it has been observed to be only so fast as a human walking briskly. Should a predator decide to approach it, it's first instinct is to flee.
It will look some place to hide in such as:
• Thick vegetation
• Burrows
• Rock crevices
• Bushes
• Low branches of trees
However, if it were to get cornered, this snake has the tendency of coiling up before striking and at the same time, vibrate its tail.

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