Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: What’s the Difference?

Written by Brandi Allred
Published: March 18, 2022
© Radiant Reptilia/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:
Think You Know Snakes?

Colubrid snakes are also known as typical snakes in North America, including indigo snakes and black racers. But, how do you tell the two species apart? When it comes to indigo snakes and black racers, there are important differences, as well as many similarities between the two. Both snakes are native to the eastern United States, though one grows far larger than the other.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the indigo snake vs black racer. By the end, we’ll know exactly how the two species differ in size, appearance, habitat, behavior, diet, and lifespan. We’ll learn about what makes these snakes similar and what sets them apart.

Read on to learn just how different indigo snakes are from black racers.

34,642 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Comparing Indigo Snake vs Black Racer

Indigo snakes grow much larger than black racers.

©A-Z-Animals.com

Indigo SnakeBlack Racer
Size4-10 pounds; 60-84 inches long1-2 pounds; 20-60 inches long
AppearanceEntirely black to blue-black with orange markings on the chin and sides of the face. Longest native snake in the United StatesAll black to blue-black scales with lighter bellies and white markings on the throat. Large red eyes with round pupils
Location and HabitatSoutheastern United States; riparian zones, pine woods, glades, and swampy areasEastern United States; forests, flatlands, and shrublands
BehaviorFlattens head and vibrates tail when threatened. Only bites as a last resort; non-aggressiveMimics rattlesnakes by vibrating tail when threatened; only bites when provoked
Lifespan12-21 years5-10 years

Key Differences Between Indigo Snake vs Black Racer

a southern black racer on the side of the road
The black racer has white coloring on the chin.

©Perry Correll/Shutterstock.com

Indigo snakes are bigger and heavier than black racers. While both are mostly black, indigo snakes have orange-colored throats, while black racers have white-colored throats. Neither species are venomous, though they both mimic the dangerous species of snakes when threatened. 

Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between the indigo snake vs black racer.

Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: Size and Weight

Wild Texas Indigo Snake facing the camera
The indigo snake weighs more than the black racer.

©Joe Farah/Shutterstock.com

Indigo snakes are the longest snakes native to the United States; they can grow up to nine feet long. There are two common species of indigo snakes – Texas indigo snakes and eastern indigo snakes. Black racers are medium-sized, slender-bodied snakes, but they are around 4.5 feet long. Indigo snakes have thick bodies with narrow heads.

The biggest difference between indigo snakes and black racers comes from their weights. Black racers weigh only 1-2 pounds, while indigo snakes weigh between 4-10 pounds. 

Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: Location and Habitat

Snakes That Look Like Copperheads-Black Racer Snake
Black racers are commonly found in flatlands and frequent shrublands.

©Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

One difference to note in indigo snakes vs black racers is their range. Indigo snakes can be found only in the southeastern United States, in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Black racers also live in the southeastern part of the United States, but they can be found as far north as southern Maine, and far west as eastern Texas. 

Indigo snakes love the water; they’re commonly found in swampy areas, glades, pine woods, and riparian zones near freshwater. On the other hand, black racers tend to frequent shrublands, flatlands, forests, and the edges of urban and suburban areas.

Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: Appearance

Texas indigo snakes are large-bodied, very long snakes with a base color of iridescent black scales and brown speckles.
Indigo snakes have blue-black bodies with orange-colored chins.

©Joe Farah/Shutterstock.com

In comparison, indigo snakes vs black racers look very similar. They both have black to blue-black bodies with lighter bellies and narrow heads. But, indigo snakes have orange-colored chins and throats, whereas black racers have white chins. In addition, indigo snakes have much thicker bodies than black racers.

Their adult phase may look similar, but indigo snakes and black racers look very different when they’re babies. Juvenile indigo snakes look very similar to adults; they’re black with orange throats. But black baby racers start as light brown snakes with darker brown patterning. As they age, they darken in color until they attain their true black scales.

Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: Behavior

close up of Southern black racer with tongue out
Black racers often eat amphibians and insects.

©TjacksonVii/Shutterstock.com

The indigo snake and black racer share many characteristics when it comes to behavior. They’re both active only during daylight hours. Both species lack venom and will only bite humans when threatened or provoked. Indigo snakes rear up and flatten their necks like cobras to make themselves appear more dangerous than they are. Similarly, black racers coil up and vibrate their tails like rattlesnakes to scare off predators.

Black racers eat everything from insects to fish to bird eggs. They are also known to eat amphibians, small mammals, and birds. Indigo snakes are particularly known for eating other snakes, even the venomous rattlesnake.

Indigo Snake vs Black Racer: Lifespan

Black racers are believed to live an average of 5-10 years in the wild. Indigo snakes live a little longer, between 12-21 years. As babies, both species have high mortality rates due to predation by other snakes, birds, and mammals. If they make it to adulthood, they have a good chance of living a long, full life.

Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda

Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.



The Featured Image

Texas Indigo Snake
Texas indigo snakes are large active snakes that flush out prey then overpower it
© Radiant Reptilia/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.