Southern Black Racer vs Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake

The Black Racer

A Case of Mis-identification part II

In part I you read about the confusion between a Black Racer and a Florida Cottonmouth. The main reason for this is the similar dark gray/black color of the two adult snakes. Read about that here.  However, there is another problem with the Black Racer. It occurs when the snake is still a juvenile.

Black Racer Snake resting on branches of Night- blooming Jasmine. Rockledge, FL

In this post, we address the second common way that Southern aka Eastern Black racers are mis-identified.

The second way, is due to the fact that a young racer has a different pattern and look than the adult. They have reddish-brown colored areas down the middle of their back against a gray background. If you ever see a juvenile Black Racer, you will notice a lot of small, dark specks on their sides and especially their bellies. [see below video] These markings make the juvenile black racer too often the result of mistaken identity. As a further note, if the snake feels threatened, the little juvie racer will coil up and shake it’s tail (over a leafy area) attempting to sound like a rattlesnake warning! This affair often works in scaring away prey however, humans unfortunately, see this behavior as a threat too– and many will just go ahead and kill the snake, thinking that it is venomous and opting to ask questions later. Please take a moment to browse images of the non venomous, Juvenile Black Racer…

Markings of a Juvenile Black Racer

Is killing a non venomous snake really that much of a bad thing? Well, consider this. Snakes are a great means of natural rodent control. They eat frogs, lizards, mice rats and small snakes. It is said that many Juvenile Black Racer often meets with an untimely death due to this case of mistaken identity.

Just don’t like snakes at all?

You can minimize how much you are attracting snakes into your area by doing the following:

  1. eliminate firewood stacks
  2. eliminate debris
  3. eliminate boards

Objects lying close to the ground create handy little shelters for small animals such as mice. When snakes are looking for food they are more likely to find it underneath of materials where rodents can hide.


Watch to the end to see her surprise…

Click here for more information on the Venomous Dusky Pygmy Rattler

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake similar colors to Juvie Black Racer
Juvenile Black Racer
Juvenile Black Racer with markings so similar to the Dusky Pygmy Rattler
Dusky Pygmy Rattle Crossing Road
Dusky Pygmy Rattler Crossing Road

Read part I

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