• countrygirlrileyly

Southern Black Racer Snake

This post is going to double as a farm life story and an informational post, since a Southern Black Racer snake just happened to be spotted on our farm just yesterday.

Some of you may know of Taiga, the amazing photographer of The Wonderland Market (if you don't, go her page, check out her work, she's honestly so talented) was out on the farm doing photoshoots, her little Yorkie following her around as always. As Taiga walked over to one of the patches of irises we have around the property, she saw a long black tail slink away. Taiga immediately stopped, back tracked, and picked up her dog, bringing her inside the house for us to watch while she continued to work.

Pro Tip: If you don't know what kind of snake you're looking at, always act as if it's dangerous and make sure every creature (including the snake!) is kept safe.

After bringing her dog inside, Taiga went back out to continue her photoshoot. She placed the doll she was working with, took a test photo, then re-positioned herself. Just as she raised her camera, she happened to glance sideways and saw the thick black body of the snake that she thought had already left. Taiga's smart enough to stay out of the way of wild animals, especially when she doesn't know if they're poisonous or not, so she did immediately grab the doll and back off...and then noticed that the snake was watching her work. She tried to take a picture of the snake, but unfortunately had the wrong lens on her camera at the time, so we don't have a live on-the-farm picture to show you of that encounter.

So we pulled pictures from the internet for the educational part of this post.

The photo Taiga got wasn't her usual professional quality, but between that and her memory, we were able to identify the snake as a Southern Black Racer.

They're common in, you guessed it, the southern states. Their scales aren't very glossy, so the sun doesn't reflect off their bodies very well. The picture above shows the snake in direct sunlight, so the scales reflect the light a little bit, but when they're in the shade, like the one Taiga saw was, their bodies look kind of like rubber. As adults, Southern Black Racers are always, as their name suggests, black, with silverish noses and lower jaws. As juveniles, however, they look very different. (That's the case with so many animals though!)

They're actually born silver with reddish brown splotches all over their bodies, and as they get older their bodies slowly darken. When we learned this, we also realized that the Southern Black Racer that Taiga saw is very likely the very same snake we found in our storage barn about a year ago, who looked very similar: the face markings were very similar, and the body of last year's snake was very dark, nearly black, but still had faint splotches.

Southern Black Racer snakes are not poisonous, and not hostile either. But, as Taiga can attest, they're not overly fearful creatures either: the one in our irises sat, unknowingly to Taiga, beside her while she worked for several minutes before she noticed and left it alone (and honestly, she probably would have kept hanging out with it if she'd already known it wasn't poisonous).

Southern Black Racers are constrictor snakes, meaning when they do kill, they do it by wrapping their entire bodies around their prey and squeezing. So Taiga was right to get her small dog safely away from the snake immediately. I don't think the snake would have attacked the dog as long as the dog left it alone, the snake definitely didn't feel threatened by presence alone, but dogs are often even more curious than cats, so best not to take the risk.

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