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Black Racer <image courtesy of Dr. Martin J. Rosenberg>

  • Adult body length: 36 - 60 inches; maximum 73 inches
  • Length when hatched: 8 - 13 inches
  • Breeding period: April - May
  • Young per year: 10 - 12 eggs
  • Typical foods: Small mammals, birds, frogs, lizards, other snakes and large insects


The Black Racer is a long, fairly slender snake with back, sides and belly colored plain black. Usually there is some white color on the chin and the throat. The scales are smooth, without keels, and the anal plate is divided.
This snake is similar in appearance and habit to its close relative, the Blue Racer. Interbreeding with the Blue Racer often occurs where their two ranges overlap. Resulting offspring sometimes display characteristics of both parents, or may look the same as one of the parents.

Overall Range
Southern Maine west to northeastern Ohio, south to northern Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Range in Ohio
Eastern and southeastern parts of the state.
Black Racer Ohio Map

Local Habitat
Habitat: Rocky ledges, pastures, fields, woodlands.


This fast-moving snake is diurnal. Even though it is a good climber it seems to spend most of its time on the ground. Observers of snakes can find this species in almost any rural situation within its range in Ohio. When on the hunt for food an individual typically holds its head up, above the ground, and moves rapidly through undergrowth.
Sometimes, when threatened, the Black Racer will move into bushes or small trees. When annoyed by a person it becomes very aggressive and strikes out at its tormentor. And its bite can be rather painful. A threatened Black Racer often will vibrate its tail rapidly, making a buzzing sound that can be mistaken for a rattlesnake.
During the winter, Black Racers often hibernate in large numbers and with other kinds of snakes. This typically occurs on rocky hillsides.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

Ohio History Central, "Black Racer Snake"

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The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 06/25/2003
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