Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

North American Racer (Coluber constrictor)
Specimen from Utah

North American Racer (Coluber constrictor)

 NORTH AMERICAN RACER  Coluber constrictor
DESCRIPTION: A medium to long (up to 1,900 mm or 75″ in total length), plain blue-green, brown, or olive colored snake with a creamy yellow or white underside. The eyes are large and the body is slim. The pupils are round. Young have brown to orange-brown dorsal blotches on the neck and anterior portion of the body. These blotches fade as the animal ages and are eventually replaced by the plain adult pattern. The scales are smooth.

DISTRIBUTION: Only one North American Racer has been documented in Arizona. It was collected in “Eagar”, Apache County, in 1927. This species may still occur in the vicinity of Eagar or along the Arizona-New Mexico border to the north. The elevation at Eagar is ca. 7,000′. In neighboring New Mexico this snake is found at elevations ranging from 3,800′ to 6,500′.

HABITAT: The community in which the Arizona specimen was found is Plains Grassland. This snake is generally one of open, grassy areas and transition zones between grasslands and woodlands, often near rivers, creeks, or other sources of water. Where populations are robust this snake is often encountered near rock piles, fallen logs, and old wood piles which provide refugia for the snake and basking sites for lizard prey.

This is an active, alert, and swift diurnal snake that uses its speed to capture prey and avoid being preyed upon.
It often hunts with its head elevated off the ground. It is primarily a ground-dweller but occasionally climbs into bushes and trees. The cold months of winter and late fall are spent in an underground hibernaculum. This snake does not hesitate to bite when captured.

DIET: The orth American Racer feeds on mice and other small mammals, lizards, snakes, birds, eggs, frogs, and insects.

REPRODUCTION: Mating takes place in May and early June. A clutch of up to 31 eggs is laid in early summer.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Bartlett. 2000. Snakes of North America: Western
Gulf Publishing Co. Houston, TX

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Fowlie. 1965. The Snakes of Arizona. Azul Quinta Press, Fallbrook, California

Lowe, Schwalbe, Johnson. 1986. The Venomous Reptiles of Arizona. Nongame Branch
Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Stebbins. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY

North American Racer (Coluber constrictor) Arizona Range Map

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