North American Racer

Coluber constrictor


Racers are highly active diurnal snakes commonly found throughout Mississippi and the southeast US. Habitats include grasslands, open woodlands, and pine savannas (Behler & King, 1979). They are nonvenomous. Racers appear in a wide range of subspecific morphologies, and two of these subspecies can be found in Mississippi. The Black-masked Racer is found in the Mississippi Delta region and extreme southwest counties. It is brown to gray-blue with a dark “mask” through the eye. East and southeast MS have the Southern Black Racer, which is nearly entirely jet-black or blueish-black, usually with a light chin. Scales are smooth and belly is plain in adults. Juveniles are patterned more complexly (see below photo). They are active hunters and persist on small mammals, frogs, lizards, insects, and even other snakes. Racers are often seen quickly crossing roads or other open areas, and are good climbers when they need to be.

Adult Southern Black Racer, Greene Co. (MS)

Identifying Traits

  • Long, fast, slender snake
  • Plain in appearance
  • Smooth scales

Subspecies Present:

Black-masked Racer (Coluber constrictor latrunculus);

Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)


Woodlands, grasslands



Agile and quick, seen crossing roads, trails, or darting through grass or brush. May climb when escaping danger.


Generalist predator. Insects, frogs, lizards, small mammals, other snakes

Juvenile, sporting the typical patterning of young racers, George Co. (MS)
Adult Black-masked Racer, St. Martin Par. (LA)
Subadult Southern Black Racer, faint patterning still present, Jackson Co. (MS)