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Baby Black Racer Snake

Baby Black Racer

10.06.2004 - Here it is. I probably get more emails about this snake than any other. This snake is incredibly common, especially throughout Florida, and people see it, don't know what it is, take a photo, email it to me, and ask exactly what crazy new species of snake they've discovered. The answer is that it's a baby Black Racer. I sometimes answer that it's a juvenile Black Racer or a hatchling Black Racer, but it's a baby Black Racer all the same.

Many snakes change color and pattern as they mature. I'm not sure exactly why, but my guess is that the color pattern on the babies is suited toward camouflage, and by the time it grows into an adult, the color changes either to reflect a better, updated camouflage to suit the new adult environment, or the adults are not as vulnerable to predators, and thus can adopt colors that are better for other reasons, such as attracting a mate, or who knows.

Click here to see photos of the Adult Black Racer Snake, which is black.

Anyway, yes, the above snake looks nothing like an adult black racer, which, as the name implies, is jet black. Regardless of color, this little snake behaves similarly to the adult, in that it's aggressive. In fact, these baby snakes are more aggressive than the adults. The adults tend to dart away at top speed. The baby racers don't have that speed, and thus they tend to stand their ground, shake their tails violently like a rattler, and strike repeatedly. Unfortunately for them, this is all just a show, and they are totally harmless, and if you want to eat one, you'll have no problem whatsoever. YUM!

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Are colorful snakes the poisonous ones? When you look at the population of snakes around the world, the colorful ones often tend to be the most venomous; however, when you talk about North American snakes, there is only one colorful snake you really need to worry about. The coral snake is a beautiful but deadly creature with red, yellow, and black banding. It kills it prey with neurotoxic venom. The other venomous snakes in this region of the world are not so spectacular in hue, though they have a beauty all their own.  Many snakes with color and pattern, like the young Black Racer, look like they might be venomous, but they are harmless. The pit vipers, which make up most USA venomous snakes, are a more camouflaged group, having colors and patterns in more earthy tones. So well concealed are these snakes that you might never see one if it was a few steps from you. This is also the reason why so many people accidentally encounter a venomous snake while out for a walk. Most snakes are ambushers, waiting for their prey before they strike. The unknowing hiker can easily step directly on a rattlesnake or a copperhead without ever realizing it—one reason why tall boots are recommended.

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