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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota

Racer (Coluber constrictor)

species distribution map JPG -- Species Photo

Racers are fast moving snakes that are very difficult to catch. Their speed is astounding, and it is common to see these snakes for just a moment before they vanish through the grass. They are slender snakes of medium size with greenish- blue to gray coloration on their backs, a bright yellow belly and a white patch on their chin.

Racers inhabit the sagebrush prairies of western North Dakota and are commonly found near a source of water. They have large eyes which aid them in their pursuit of prey during the day. The diet of racers varies. They feed on small rodents, reptiles, and insects, which are their main food source.

Young racers have a distinctive pattern that slowly fades as they mature. The pattern will change slowly over a three year period to the typical greenish-blue, or gun-metal gray coloration found in fully mature adults.

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