While walking through Catch the Wind, I caught a glimpse of a black snake in the grass on the side of the path. It was a black racer.
There are two species of snake here at the Museum which are black, the black rat snake and the racer. Rat snakes average about five feet, maxing out at little over seven. The racer averages about four feet in length, maxing at just under six. The racer is black throughout except under the chin and upper throat, in some individuals. Rat snakes have mostly white undersides the length of their bodies. Racers are round in cross section while rat snakes have a more loaf of bread cross section.
Racers are fast snakes and although they have a reputation for being aggressive, I’ve never had any problems with one. I’ve watched them from close by while they searched the grass, leaf liter, and shrubs for food, the snakes paying little attention to me as I did so.
Occasionally, offsite, I’ve come across a racer who would challenge me, turn towards me in a strike posture and rattle its tail in an attempt to scare me off, but never had one behave in such a way here at the Museum. I wouldn’t, though, try to pick one up. They will bite you (non venomous, of course). They are fast, active snakes that like to be left alone, so that’s what I do, leave them alone.
If you see one along the side of the path here at the Museum, it’s probably searching for a frog, a skink, a large beetle, a cricket, or even a mouse to eat. Watch it go along the ground, systematically rummaging through the leaf liter, and consider yourself lucky at having the opportunity to do so. Neat snakes!