racer, name for several related swift, slender snakes, especially those of the genus Coluber. All of the racers are nonpoisonous, nonconstricting, day-active snakes. The black racer, C. constrictor, is easily confused with the constricting black rat snake, or pilot black snake ( Elaphe obsoleta ), which may account for its misleading Latin name. The black racer is satiny black, with a white patch on the chin, and may reach a length of 6 ft (180 cm) and a diameter of 11/2 in. (4 cm). It is found in E North America from Canada to Florida. It feeds primarily on small rodents, frogs, and young snakes, and is a valuable destroyer of vermin. One of the fastest-moving snakes, it has been clocked at over 31/2 mi (5.6 km) per hr. An aggressive snake, it will bite repeatedly if cornered; however, it can be tamed. The young, hatched from eggs, are pale gray, spotted with brown. The name is also applied to the related indigo snake ( Drymarchon corais ) and to some of the coachwhip snakes ( Masticophis ). The speckled racers are species of the genus Dryombius. All of the racers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Colubridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.