- The black racer and black rat snake are both non-venomous species of snakes found in North America, but they have distinct physical differences. Black racers have smooth scales and slender, agile body, while black rat snakes have keeled scales and a thicker, more muscular body.
- Despite their similar names and coloration, black racers and black rat snakes have different diets and hunting behaviors. Black racers are active hunters that primarily feed on rodents, lizards, and insects, while black rat snakes are constrictors that feed on a variety of prey, including rodents, birds, and amphibians.
- Both black racers and black rat snakes are beneficial to their ecosystem as they help control rodent populations, but they can be mistaken for venomous snakes and killed by humans out of fear.
It can be extremely helpful to know the difference between certain snakes, and the same is true when comparing a black racer vs black rat snake. How can you learn to tell these two snakes apart, especially since they both live in North America?
While both of these snakes are nonvenomous, it’s valuable to know their differences.
In this article, we will address all of the similarities as well as differences between black racers and black rat snakes. You’ll learn their preferred habitats, lifespans, diets, and how to identify one should you happen upon one of these harmless snakes in the wild.
Let’s get started!
Comparing Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake
|Black Racer||Black Rat Snake|
|Size||3-5 feet long||4-6 feet long|
|Appearance||Smooth scales in matte black; some white on the underbelly and chin. Very slender snake with a short head and large eyes||Textured scales in glossy black with a vague pattern; lots of white on underbelly and chin. Long head and small eyes with tapered body shape|
|Location and Habitat||Central and North America||North America|
|Lifespan||5-10 years||8-20 years|
Five Cool Facts About Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake
Black racers and black rat snakes are two species of snakes commonly found in North America. While they may look similar, there are some key differences between the two species.
Here are five cool facts about black racers and black rat snakes:
- Speed: Black racers are known for their incredible speed and agility. These snakes can move at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest snakes in North America. In contrast, black rat snakes are slower and more deliberate in their movements, relying on stealth and ambush to catch their prey.
- Habitat: Black racers prefer open, sunny habitats such as fields, meadows, and forest edges, while black rat snakes can be found in a wider range of habitats including forests, swamps, and even suburban areas. Both species are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans.
- Diet: Black racers are active hunters and feed primarily on small rodents, lizards, and insects. Black rat snakes, on the other hand, are constrictors and feed on a variety of prey including rodents, birds, and amphibians. Both species play an important role in controlling pest populations in their respective habitats.
- Size: While both species can grow to be quite large, black rat snakes are typically longer and heavier than black racers. Adult black rat snakes can reach lengths of up to 8 feet, while black racers rarely exceed 6 feet in length.
- Reproduction: Both black racers and black rat snakes are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. Black racers typically lay clutches of 6-18 eggs in the summer months, while black rat snakes may lay up to 20 eggs in a single clutch.
In conclusion, while black racers and black rat snakes may look similar at first glance, they have distinct differences in their behavior, habitat, and physical characteristics.
Key Differences Between Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake
There are many key differences between black racers and black rat snakes. The black rat snake belongs to the Pantherophis genus, while the black racer belongs to the Coluber genus. The black racer average has a shorter length when compared to the black rat snake. The locations where these snakes are found also differ, but they are also frequently found in the same habitats. Finally, there is a difference in the lifespan of a black racer versus a black rat snake.
Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now including their physical description so that you can learn how to tell them apart.
Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake: Genus and Scientific Classification
A primary difference between a black racer vs black rat snake is their genus and scientific classifications. The black rat snake belongs to the Pantherophis genus, while the black racer belongs to the Coluber genus. While this isn’t a very obvious distinction, it is important to note that both of these nonvenomous lookalikes belong to different species.
Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake: Physical Appearance and Size
If you’ve always wanted to be able to tell the difference between a black racer and a black rat snake, you’re in the right place. A black rat snake grows longer than a black racer on average, with 4-6 feet long being the average length of a black rat snake, and 3-5 feet long being the average length of a black racer.
Black racers have smooth scales in a matte black shade, while black rat snakes have slightly textured scales in a glossy black color in addition to a vague pattern on their back. Both of these snakes have white underbellies, but black rat snakes have significantly more whites when compared to black racers.
Finally, the head of the black racer is shorter compared to the head of the black rat snake, and the black racer has larger eyes than the black rat snake.
Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake: Behavior and Diet
There are a few behavioral and dietary differences when comparing a black racer vs black rat snake. Black rat snakes are efficient constrictors capable of climbing up buildings and trees, while black racers prefer to move along the ground and rise up to take a look at their surroundings, but they don’t often climb.
Both of these snakes are considered harmless benefits to many ecosystems, despite many people feeling differently. They both eat a wide variety of pests, but black rat snakes are capable of taking down much larger prey compared to black racers. Black rat snakes eat large rodents and birds, while many black racers stick to amphibians and bird eggs.
When it comes to feeling threatened, black racers usually behave as their name implies and race away, while black rat snakes hold their ground in a defensive position. The markings on a black rat snake make many people think they are rattlesnakes, especially given the fact that they mimic rattlesnakes and the way their tails rattle.
Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake: Preferred Habitat and Geographic Location
Another difference between black racers and black rat snakes is their geographic location and preferred habitats. While both of these snakes enjoy woodland and grassland areas, often encroaching on suburban areas, the black racer is found in both North and South America, while the black rat snake is only found in North America.
Given the overall athletic ability of the black rat snake, it is found in a wide variety of locations when compared to the black racer. Black racers tend to hide in man-made structures or forests, while black rat snakes are often found in trees or high areas in suburban locations.
Black Racer vs Black Rat Snake: Lifespan
A final difference between a black racer vs. black rat snake is their lifespan. Black rat snakes live an average of 8 to 20 years, while black racers live an average of 5 to 10 years. This is a key difference between them, even though both of these snakes are at risk from human interference. Both black racers and black rat snakes are often regarded as pests or meet an early demise when attempting to cross highways or other busy traffic areas.
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