Skip to content

Juvenile Southern Black Racer (Nonvenomous) Florida

Florida white gray color snake red brown spots on back gray tail. What is it?

This is a juvenile southern black racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) a nonvenomous snake commonly found in Florida. Their color starts to turn to black with white markings on chin and throat as they become older and stay that color as an adult. Juveniles look completely different from adults they have a white and gray color skin with red or almost brown spots or round marking along their back. These colors will start to fade within the in the first year of life.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Photo by FWC
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Photo by FWC

Black racers are commonly refereed to as aggressive snakes, however this is not the case. These snakes tend to be very nervous and because of this do not like to be held normally. If cornered they may start to show an aggressive side, sitting in a strike position towards you (seen above) and even open their mouth at times showing they will bite you. While these snakes are predators themselves they are also prey to other larger wildlife and this plays a role in their slightly aggressive side shown. In most cases if left alone they are completely harmless to humans. Snakes typically try to avoid encounters with people and because of this they will usually move away quickly once they spot you. But remember to always give snakes space.

Scientific Name
Coluber constrictor priapus

Common Name
Southern Black Racer


Juvenile Southern Black Racer
Juvenile Southern Black Racer

The southern black racer is one of the more common subspecies of the nonvenomous Coluber constrictor snake species of the Southeastern United States. The sub-specific name priapus refers to the proximal spines of the hemipenes being much enlarged into basal hooks, which is characteristic of this subspecies.

The southern black racer is a predator that relies on lizards, insects, moles, birds, eggs, small snakes, rodents, and frogs. Despite its specific name constrictor (scientific name: Coluber constrictor), the racer is more likely to suffocate or crush its victim into the ground, rather than coiling around it in typical constrictor fashion. – Wikipedia

Juvenile Southern Black Racer
Juvenile Southern Black Racer

Humans remain the greatest enemy of black racers. Many are killed on highways and others are intentionally killed out of fear. The southern black racer can be mistaken for a cottonmouth – a venomous snake more commonly called a water moccasin. The venomous snake has a white lining inside of its mouth. Racers are nonvenomous and do not breed with cottonmouths. Natural enemies include such birds of prey as hawks, including the red-shouldered hawk and broad-winged hawk. These perching and soaring birds have keen eyesight and drop down from above to capture black racers and other snakes in a manner that makes the snake’s speed and ground awareness ineffectual.

Typical size for this snake is 51–142 cm (20–56 in), and the record is 180 cm (72 in). The southern black racer has a white chin, whereas an indigo snake normally has a dark to reddish-orange chin. – Wikipedia

Adult Southern Black Racer
Adult Southern Black Racer Photo Credit

Research from FWC, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and some above information is from Wikipedia.