North American Racer

(also known as black racer)

Coluber constrictor

Please submit sightings of this Endangered species to MDIFW immediately by emailing or (207) 941-4475

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Maine’s longest snake, adults approximately 36 to 76 inches in length
  • Slender, glossy black above with smooth scales
  • Underside is light bluish-gray, with a white chin and throat
  • Juveniles have dark blotches on a lighter gray background, may be confused with eastern milksnake or common watersnake

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Status and Distribution in Maine

  • State Endangered; Species of Greatest Conservation Need
  • Rare
  • Southern region only

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Photo: Trevor Persons

  • Shrub-grassland and dry, open woodlands
  • Often uses large shrubby utility corridors

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  • Varied diet includes small mammals; frogs; nestling birds; and insects, especially grasshoppers

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Seasonal Changes

  • Overwinters underground in chipmunk burrows, often with other snake species

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Natural History Notes

  • Alert, fast-moving
  • Large home ranges, over 200 acres in Maine
  • Despite Latin name constrictor, does not constrict and suffocate its prey
  • May react aggressively if cornered, although like all Maine snakes is harmless

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