Sunday, September 03, 2017

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake

The Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake looks nothing like the adult Black Racer! Perhaps that is to give this snake a better chance to survive in that it resembles other more threatening snakes. It was early in the afternoon on a September Saturday when I noticed a smallish snake scurrying up my driveway. I couldn't tell from my kitchen window what type of snake, so I grabbed my camera and headed outside to get a closer look.

Juvenile Southern  Black Racer Snake
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Before I lived in Leesburg, I had lived in Jacksonville for well over twenty years. During those two decades, I had the opportunity to observe quite a few black racer snakes in my yard. For the most part, they weren't solitary, but were usually seen racing or scooting through my yard. Not this little guy!

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
I had never seen a Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake before so it never occurred to me that this was a young black racer snake. Comparing the snake to the color of the driveway, it seemed to have a bluish-gray color offsetting the reddish-brown blotches. It was probably between 14 and 16 inches in length. Newborn black racers are about 9 inches in length.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
This juvenile snake was extremely feisty. As it moved up the driveway, it had its tongue out and head up. It was raising its head, assuming a strike pose and did strike out at me a few times. I fully expected the snake to keep on scurrying and head away from me. But, it didn't.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
After a few photos, the snake had scurried into my front yard garden and was resting near the trellis of my Confederate Star Jasmine. I snapped a couple more photos and then left the snake. Coming inside, I was curious to try and identify this snake. Not that long ago, I had observed a Water Moccasin in the grass across the street from my home. Judging from the "combative" feisty behavior of this little snake, I was thinking not a friendly snake I'd want to bite me.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake - Leesburg, Florida
Doing a lot of Google searches for speckled, mottled gray-blue and reddish-brown snakes, I found this little snake did resemble, a bit, a Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake or a Prairie Kingsnake. I did research a variety of Garter Snakes, but didn't think that was the right snake. It was challenging trying to identify this snake because I wasn't sure how to describe its markings.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Dead
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Dead February 22, 2018
I was having my A/C maintenance performed on February 22, 2018. When the fellow finished up using his hose, I found this Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake dead in the grass. It had a small cut on its lower body. Such a shame!
The first website that I found which helped me to identify this juvenile snake was Snake Removal Trap which has a photo gallery of Florida snakes. On that page, there is also a closeup photo of a Juvenile Corn Snake which is similar to the Juvenile Black Racer Snake with it blotchy reddish-brown markings.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Dead
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Dead February 22, 2018
The second website that confirmed the identify of this juvenile snake was Cambridge in Colour which has a couple of excellent closeup photos on their forum. That's when I was pretty sure I had the right snake as it looked like mine!

I was looking now for a Florida website to see more photos and information on this snake. I came upon UF's Florida Museum page on the Coluber constrictor priapus where it clearly states, "Juvenile southern black racers are blotched." Well, now we know.

A really excellent photo of the Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake was found on the South Carolina Public Radio website by Kevin Enge of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Skin
Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake Skin January 30, 2018
Working in my front yard garden on January 30, 2018, I noticed a strip of shed snake skin under my Firecracker plant. I am quite sure it was from a Juvenile Southern Black Racer Snake and it is a good probability it was the same one found dead a few weeks later!
Researching this snake further, I learned this snake is not recommended as a pet because of its nervous disposition. It will readily bite to defend itself -- yes, I definitely got that part of its makeup! About four in ten of the juveniles will survive ... so that may explain why this snake starts off with the interesting markings ... to enhance its chance at survival.

If this snake was hungry, it came to the right yard! My front yard garden is occupied by a plethora of brown anole lizards and some skinks. I've seen snails, frogs and toads and beetles. As I work a lot out in my garden(s), I will be curious to see if this little fellow hangs around!

Want to see other Florida snakes I've observed? Check out my blog post in the Florida Scarlet Snake. In that post, I share photos of the Florida Scarlet Snake along with an adult Black Racer Snake, Common Garter Snake, and Water Moccasin Snake. Check out my other blog post on the Red Rat Snake for photographs of a really colorful snake.

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