Utah State Reptile
Eastern Racer Snake (common name)
Coluber constrictor (scientific name)
The eastern racer snake includes 11 subspecies that live throughout North and Central America. This snake can live in a wide range of habitats, from damp to semi-desert. It’s non-venomous but does not hesitate to bite it feels threatened, and has sharp enough teeth to draw blood. It’s also known for being quick. Active in the daytime, this snake also has particularly good vision.
ALSO KNOWN AS
Blue racer, yellow-bellied racer
An adult eastern racer is usually long and sleek with smooth scales and a uniform dark color that may be black, blue, green, or brown, depending on the subspecies and the area. This snake’s underside is lighter, often white to beige. It has a wide head, a thin neck, and large eyes with round pupils. Unlike an adult, a young racer has a noticeable pattern of dark brown spots on its back and sides. The pattern fades as the snake matures.
Over 10 years in the wild
Open, sunny areas including meadows, pastures, sagebrush flats, open chaparral, pinion-juniper woodland, and edges of the ponds or forest glades.
Range: United States, excluding the Rocky Mountains and extremely dry deserts; south into Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC). Because of its wide range, there are many eastern racers, but individual populations are declining and this snake is protected in some states. Loss of habitat due to urbanization, agriculture, and on-road mortalities contribute to its decline. Conservation efforts include protection of important habitats, reducing road mortality, and reintroduction techniques.
The eastern racer snake lives primarily on the ground, though it will climb trees and bushes when chasing prey or to avoid a predator. It is active in daylight and depends on vision for both hunting and self-defense. It moves with its head up, and lifting it above cover to get a clear view when necessary. It catches its meals by striking quickly, holding the animal or insect still by pressing down with its coils, and swallowing its meal whole.
In winter, the eastern racer hibernates with other racers, usually in an underground burrow dug by a different animal. This snake mates in spring, after hibernating, and a female will nest in summer. She deposits five to 31 eggs in an underground burrow built by another animal or under rocks or stumps. She often chooses a nesting place outside her usual home range. More than one female may use the same nest at the same time. Hatchlings emerge two to three months later and are normally mature by the time they’re three years old.
Top land speed recorded: 8–10 mph (13–16 kph)
Large insects, frogs, lizards, rodents, other snakes, small mammals, turtles, birds, and eggs.
Breeding interval: Annual
Hatching period: July-September
Average nest size: 10-12 eggs
Size at birth: average length 8-13 in (20-33 cm); weight 0.04 lbs (20 g)
Click to enlarge an image
Raw Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press