The blue racer snake is found in many parts of the United States, and a limited area of Canada. AnimalSake features some must-know blue racer snake facts.
Loss of natural habitat is a primary cause of concern for the diminishing population of blue racers in their geographic range. Moreover, in some parts they are also killed in large numbers as a result of superstitious beliefs.
The blue racer snake, Coluber constrictor foxii, is one of eleven recognized subspecies of the Coluber constrictor, the eastern racer snake, known to be endemic to North America and Central America. It is found widely and commonly in the U.S. in the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and Iowa. Records also inform us of its presence in Ontario, Canada, where it inhabits about two-thirds of the eastern portion of the Pelee Island, and is not known to be found beyond it since 1983. This article will give you some interesting facts about the blue racers.
Species: Coluber constrictor
Subspecies: Coluber constrictor foxii
- The blue racer is a large snake, ranging between four to six feet in length. In Ontario, it ranks among the province’s largest snakes.
- Its back has a shiny tinge to it, and solidly colored in bluish, greenish, or sometimes, grayish shades.
- Its ventral scales are creamy white to light blue in color.
- The head is darker than the body, the eyes are also relatively larger in size, and the scales on its snout are brownish orange in color.
- A juvenile blue racer varies in appearance from a fully grown adult in that, it bears a distinctive pattern of reddish-brown to gray spots on its gray body. However, once it starts maturing, this pattern begins to fade away, and disappears completely by the age of three.
- A blue racer is generally found in sunny and dry habitats. These include shrubby fencerows, hedgerows, stone walls, old farmlands, thickets, and open woodlands.
- It is also known to inhabit old dunes and sand prairies.
- In certain regions such as southern Michigan, this snake may also be found alongside ponds and marshes, especially if such areas are frequented by its prey.
- It is worth noting that the blue racer is a good climber, and so it is also often found several feet (even up to 20 to 30 feet) above the ground level.
- A blue racer is known to hibernate in places such as burrows of small mammals and crayfish, crevices of rocks, rotting logs of wood, foundations of old buildings, etc. In fact, during its hibernation, it may be found at any place that provides protection and warmth from the freezing temperatures outside.
- The hibernation season falls between September to November; however, in some places, it may not be spotted before late March.
- Sometimes, this snake can travel long distances from its activity area to its hibernaculum and back.
- This snake is known to crawl across relatively shorter distances at rather high speeds. The highest speed of a blue racer snake recorded till date is about 3.47 miles per hour.
- While crawling, it is known to be quiet alert, with its head raised above the ground.
- When threatened, a blue racer will quickly crawl into nearby bushes or small trees to protect itself. Moreover, if it is disturbed to the level of annoyance, it may turn very hostile and even bite. However, it should be noted that although the blue racer’s bite may be extremely painful, it is a non-venomous snake and is not poisonous.
- In general, the mating season of blue racers lies between the months of April and May.
- During this time, the snake becomes not only aggressive, but also territorial. One can often notice two male blue racers in combat over a territory or a female blue racer.
- A female blue racer reaches its sexual maturity at the age of two to three years, and a male at the age of eleven months to two years.
- Reproduction in blue racers happens annually, with a single clutch size varying between five to twenty eight eggs.
- The female lays eggs around late-June, in seemingly secure microhabitats such as rotting logs, under large rocks, and even in decaying organic mounds.
- The eggs hatch between mid-August and late-September, and the hatchlings are about eight to thirteen inches in length.
Predators and Prey
- The blue racer is known to forage for its food. It is diurnal in nature, which means that it is active during the day and sleeps during the night.
- The typical diet of a juvenile blue racer comprises crickets, grasshoppers, and other small insects.
- On the other hand, an adult feeds on bigger animals such as rodents, other snakes, and even songbirds.
- The most common predators of adult blue racers include large birds of prey like hawk, owls, etc., and carnivores animals like foxes, raccoons, etc.
- Dogs and cats are known to feed on juvenile blue racers; whereas the eggs and hatchlings form food of numerous, big and small, birds and animals.
While the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not yet assessed the blue racer with respect to its conservation status, it should be noted that the species is endangered in Canada. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has not only listed it as an endangered species, but it is also being protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 of the Ontario government. Moreover, even in Wisconsin, it has been listed as a species of special concern.