Southern Black Racer

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on April 11, 2011

This weekend, I let my dogs out and saw something very odd.  A snake was frozen trying to pretend to be a stick so we would not see it.  The dogs moved on, but I sat on the porch and watched.  The snake was a black snake and was laying with it’s head about six inches off the ground.  After things got still, this snake started looking around a bit, as if hunting.  Finally, after five or ten minutes, it lowered itself and slid to the ground and leisurely moved over to a pile of landscape timbers.  Using its’ nose, the snake moved some debris and slid under the timbers.

I could not get to my camera, so do not have a picture of the snake.  However, it turns out to be a Southern Black Racer.  This snake was engaging in a behavior called “basking”, much like someone laying out in the sun.    Good to know I had not imagined this!

Southern Black Racers (Coluber constrictor priapus) is non-venomous, although if you attack, it will bite.  So will most animals, for that matter.  These snakes are beneficial.  They eat what they can catch — mice, frogs, lizards, other snakes, bird eggs.  I was excited about getting to watch it for a while.  I guess the snake decided I was harmless.

Although many people dislike snakes, they are an important part of the ecosystem.  While I will kill a poisonous snake up at the house, for the most part, I regard snakes as cheap pest control.  Where do you stand on the snake question, and why?



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