Eastern Racer Coluber constrictor

Adult from Franklin County
Adult from Newton County

Identification: Though commonly known by the moniker "blue racer", most racers in Indiana are slate-gray to black with a whitish underbelly. In northwestern Indiana, racers are blue with dark "masks" around the eyes. These slender snakes are aptly named for their speed and alertness; both of which are almost diagnostic as no other Indiana snake moves so quickly or gracefully. Though adults are uniformly dark on top, juveniles are gray-blue with red-brown blotches that fade with age. Though, not quite as long as black ratsnakes, racers can reach total lengths of around five feet (1.5 m).

Similar Species: Both black kingsnakes and black ratsnakes are similar in appearance, but tend to have some visible patterning as adults. While kingsnakes have diffuse speckling, ratsnakes tend to have more extensive checkered and diffuse banding. Racers are also more slender and have longer tails than either of the other common Indiana black snakes. Juvenile racers are similar to other blotched snakes in Indiana (northern watersnakes, eastern milksnakes, and prairie kingsnake) but are more slender and have proportionally longer tails.

Distribution: Racers are found throughout Indiana but are only prevalent in open habitat such as old fields, prairies, and meadows. These snakes are fast, diurnal predators that are most often seen on the move. Contrary to popular belief, racers do not chase people, though they may give a short pursuit when cornered or threatened. This behavior is a bluff and when faced with someone who stands their ground, the snake will retreat. Racers will only bite when grabbed or pinned down.

Old Field in Monroe County
Old Field in Jefferson County

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Eastern Racer (Coluber constrictor)
Photographs