NON-VENOMOUS

Other common names

Black Racer, Racer

Basic description

Most adult North American Racers are about 20-56 inches (50-142 cm) in total length. This is a long and slender snake with large and prominent eyes. Adults are black or bluish/black with white or whitish markings on the chin and throat. Juveniles are gray with distinct reddish-brown blotches running down the back of the head and body.

Range in Florida

North American racers are found throughout mainland Florida in every county. They also occur on the Florida Keys.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-Venomous. North American racers are not dangerous to people or pets, but they will readily bite to defend themselves. Racers are not aggressive and avoid direct contact with people and pets. Virtually all bites occur when the snakes are intentionally molested.

Comparison with other species

Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) Non-venomous

two images side by side - Image 1: Eastern Indigo Snake - blue-black snake with red marking under its jaw. Image 2: North American Racer - coiled blue-black snake.
Eastern Indigo Snake. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson
North American Racer. Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Eastern Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) Non-venomous

two images side by side - Image 1: Eastern coachwhip - snake with its head raised above the grass. Image 2: North American Racer - coiled blue-black snake.
Adult Eastern Coachwhip with black head and neck and tan body exhibiting periscoping behavior. Photo courtesy of Luke Smith
North American Racer. Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) Non-venomous

two images side by side - Image 1: Eastern ratsnake - coiled reddish-brown snake with darker stripes. Snake is showing black and red tongue. Image 2: North American Racer - coiled blue-black snake.
Eastern Ratsnake. Photo courtesy of Noah Mueller.
North American Racer. Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Pygmy Rrattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius) Venomous

Side by side comparison of the Dusky Pygmy rattlensnake and the North American racer.
Pygmy Rattlesnake. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.
North American Racer. Photo courtesy of Luke Smith.

Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

Banner photo courtesy of Luke Smith. Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.