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Biological Survey

Herping the Siouxland

Blue Racer: (Coluber constrictor)

These magnificent serpents can grow to 5 feet long but are fairly slender.  They are a dull olive green above with bright yellow bellies. (The skin between the  scales is often a bright turquoise blue.) These snakes have only been found in areas where rugged, rocky, prairie habitat still exists. They have not been officially documented in the Minnesota Valley west of Mankato. Scattered populations have been found from Mankato down to the Mississippi Valley.   

Any sightings of these rarely seen snakes Anywhere would be greatly appreciated as their numbers seem to be declining as well.               

And they don't call 'em Racers for nuthin: They have excellent eyesight and will not hesitate to quickly vanish upon the first hint of danger. There are reports that these fast moving snakes will chase people! Actually...if a Racer sees you coming it will try to flee immediately. However...they have a home range and know every square foot of their territory and if you happen to be standing near it's favorite hole it will quickly crawl towards you in an attempt to seek safety. (I've seen this happen more than once and it does give you a good scare!!!) You have to admit, though, it's a good trick they pull in order to stay alive. These snakes will eat a wide variety of food: Small Mice, Frogs, Salamanders,  Insects and other Snakes are consumed as well.       Hatchling Racers are heavily patterned and look nearly identical to baby Fox Snakes. During it's 3rd year it gradually loses the speckled pattern and becomes light green.  The photo down below gives you a better idea of the size and coloration of these marvelous animals. We found 5 of these snakes under an old barn door. I caught 2, one crawled 15 feet up into a tree, the 4th one simply vanished before our eyes, and this brave junior biologist quickly grabbed the biggest one of all. (He was 4 feet tall at the time. The snake measured in at over 5 feet long) Now keep in mind: Racers will bite! This one didn't. Instead it quickly rewarded it's captor by crapping profusely all over the front of his shirt and pants!!! He held on though long enough to get a great photo. (Don't be alarmed: His Mom was along with us at the time) I always recommend bringing a child along on expeditions. They have quick reflexes and because they are built lower to the ground they usually see the snakes first.  

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