Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Pocket Guide. Some may appear indigo, taking on a decidedly bluish tint (and may be referred to by locals as a "Blue Racer"). For someone brave enough to hold on, the North American Racer uses a full range of defensive maneuvers: thrashing, jerking, twisting, striking and biting repeatedly, musking, and pooping. Gravid females later in the summer will lay a number of eggs (up to 15 is not unusual). Maturity is reached around 2 years old.
The Coral Snake is probably the most easily identifiable venomous snake in Arkansas. The myth of Ratsnakes interbreeding with Copperheads to produce venomous hybrids is occasionally used as reason for killing these "disguised killers", however, such myths are completely untrue and unfounded. Most are solid-colored as their common names imply: black racers, brown racers, tan racers, blue racers, or green racers. Their diet consists primarily of small rodents, frogs, toads, lizards, and other snakes. MtDNA phylogeography of the North American rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta): a critique of the subspecies concept. Four subspecies occur in the state. Most of the eastern racers prefer open, grassland-type habitats where their keen eyesight and speed can be readily used, but they are also found in light forest and even semiarid regions. , Juvenile eastern yellow-bellied racer, C. c. flaviventris, Adult eastern yellow-bellied racer, C. c. flaviventris, Adult northern black racer, C. c. constrictor, Adult northern black racer, C. c. constrictor in typical habitat, Adult black rat snake, Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta, often confused with the northern black racer, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T63748A3128579.en, "Southern Black Racer, Racer (Florida Museum)", "Corkscrew's common snakes: Black Racer (, "UMass Amherst: The College of Natural Sciences", Eastern and Western Yellow-bellied Racers, "Black Snakes": Identification and Ecology, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eastern_racer&oldid=985146714, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2011, Wikipedia articles incorporating a citation from the Encyclopedia Americana with a Wikisource reference, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 24 October 2020, at 07:17.
The young have a different patterning than the adults (see Description above). Some may appear indigo, taking on a decidedly bluish tint (and may be referred to by locals as a "Blue Racer"). It is one of a few common, larger "black snakes" found in Arkansas.
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. The temperament of Ratsnakes varies by individual, though most tame with some handling.
C. constrictor is found frequently near water, but also in brush, trash piles, roadsides, and swamps, and in suburbia; it is the most common snake in residential neighborhoods in Florida. Often an North American Racer will crawl with its head well off the ground in order to scan the surroundings for activity. Arkansas Snake Guide. < Northern Scarletsnake | Snake | Eastern Coachwhip >, Page last modified on January 21, 2012, at 08:50 PM. 1979 (1987). Prey that does not subdue easily may be thrashed against the ground or shaken vigorously.
Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. When first grabbed, a North American Racer will almost always turn around immediately and strike at the danger; darting away again as soon as released. The dominating dorsal coloration is black. 743 pp. Even I have to admit to having my heart skip a beat more than a few times by this experience. Most smaller prey items are simply swallowed alive. The North American Racer has an uncanny knack of darting away a split second before a person actually has visual contact; usually this happens right underfoot. B. Slowinski. If this happens to be someone bending down to grab one by the tail, the strike just so happens to be toward the face, and almost always results in an immediate release.
If an approaching person walks too close, the North American Racer will dart away like a bolt of greased lightning. It is especially at home in fields, cedar glades, and along the edges of woodland. Irwin, K. J. The Buttermilk Racer is considered Rare by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (see Laws for more details).
Eleven subspecies, including the nominotypical subspecies, are recognized, which as a group are commonly referred to as the eastern racers.
 The patterns vary widely among subspecies. To me, it is rather akin to a friend jumping out from behind a door to scare me. While this species usually hunts by actively seeking after prey, it is also opportunistic and is certain to seize upon any suitable prey that wanders by it. (Many people erroneously think that all snakes have terrible eyesight.
This species, due to its larger size and need to actively forage, spends a good portion of time basking. Adult eastern racers can typically vary from 50 to 152 cm (20 to 60 in) in total length (including tail) depending on the subspecies, but a record-sized specimen measured 185.4 cm (73.0 in) in total length. The dark dorsal coloration facilitates absorbing heat from the sun quickly. Favorite "hot" spots are under loose pieces of tin and (to the detriment of the snakes) highway blacktop. Around a month later, the female lays three to 30 eggs in a hidden nest site, such as a hollow log, an abandoned rodent burrow, or under a rock. Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1998. Not being seen at all is its best defense and it must somehow know that if it moves it will give itself away. The Black-masked Racer (C. c. latrunculus) has very dark black stripes behind each eye. As defense, a Ratsnake will employ the usual: pooping, releasing a foul-smelling musk, and biting. Babies and juveniles of this species have a chain-like patterning (similar to that of a young Speckled Kingsnake). These blotches may be bordered with a thin outline of cream. They are curious snakes with excellent vision and are sometimes seen raising their heads above the height of the grass where they are crawling to view what is around them. It is thought that a single den site may be used year after year. Black Racer snake, also known as the Southern black racer, or the Black Runner, is a common species of serpents mostly found in and around the southern regions of the United States. Once a mouse or other rodent is clenched in a Ratsnake's coils, there is little question as to the outcome. Juveniles often consume soft-bodied insects, such as crickets and moths. When approached, this snake will likely freeze at first; sometimes raising its head a foot or so off the ground to get a better vantage of the danger. This patterning is usually bolder toward the head, fading to blue or black toward the tail. Bird eggs are also a favorite. The North American Racer is a high-strung and nervous-acting snake.
Although there is some variation in each subspecies, the general dorsal coloration of an adult is typically solid black.
The species is monotypic in the genus Coluber.
The eggs are oblong, white, and grainy. Burbrink, F. T., R. Lawson, and J. Despite their specific name, constrictor, they do not really employ constriction, instead simply subduing struggling prey by pinning it bodily, pressing one or two coils against it to hold it in place instead of actually suffocating it. The blotches are dark; either black, dark brown, or dark gray. 3rd ed. This species was previously known as the Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta).
© 2002-2016HerpsOfArkansas.comEmail the Webmaster.  A typical adult specimen will weigh around 556 g (1.226 lb), with little size difference between the sexes.
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. < Great Plains Ratsnake | Snake | Variable Groundsnake >, Page last modified on December 27, 2013, at 06:48 PM.
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. Speed is its second line of defense. Most human-attributable deaths are caused by vehicles. This species eats a variety of warm-blooded prey, not just rats as the name implies. The namesake "Pilot Ratsnake" comes from the erroneous belief that a Ratsnake will "pilot" other snakes, including venomous species, to their den site.
The Southern Black Racer (C. c. priapus) may have a lighter coloration of cream or yellow on its chin and throat, but its belly is uniformly dark. The ventralcoloration varies greatly from white to salmon to dark gray; a checkerboard pattern is typically present. This species was previously known as the Black Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta). 616 pp. 2004. The Western Ratsnake also has a larger head and therefore a more distinct neck than the North American Racer. Some amount of juvenile patterning may be retained well into adulthood, showing up as flecks of white, salmon, or yellow between the scales. 2004. The underside (except in the Southern Black Racer) is a solid cream or yellow that may extend well onto the … 2004.
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