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Old 05-19-17, 03:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Tempted to handle more aggressive snakes. Can anyone share any input before I do so?
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Old 05-19-17, 07:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

I caught a beautiful 4 foot lone black racer last week that came to visit while I was doing yard work. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time I held him. I've had similar experiences with wild caught King Snakes and Black Rat snakes. The ones I find most likely to strike and bite are the Nerodia (watersnakes). Even as I kid, it seemed like every one of these I picked up, tagged me at least once.
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Old 05-19-17, 01:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

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Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
I caught a beautiful 4 foot lone black racer last week that came to visit while I was doing yard work. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time I held him. I've had similar experiences with wild caught King Snakes and Black Rat snakes. The ones I find most likely to strike and bite are the Nerodia (watersnakes). Even as I kid, it seemed like every one of these I picked up, tagged me at least once.
I have a hole under my front steps, at the bottom of the concrete where the concrete meets level ground. Well, as I was coming out to go to work this afternoon, there was about 4" of slender black snake head and neck sticking out looking around...until it saw me, then it ducked back down the hole. I don't think I'll mess with it, I want to keep it around.
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Old 05-21-17, 05:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

So I guess no one really has any experience with these guys.....bummer.
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Old 05-21-17, 07:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Hi LDEPLATO, must have missed this the first time you posted it. I have a blue racer, for some more details on my experiences you can look through the Dr. Coil thread in general Colubrid section. In summary, mine is wild caught, but that happened as a hatchling. Had a lot of frustration getting him to feed on frozen mice, but once he started, he has become a voracious feeder.

I know racers have a reputation as aggressive snakes, but I have not had that experience (understanding that it could be because of how young he was when I got him, his individual temperament or something else), I don't think he's tried to bite me since December. Despite that, if your original meaning of "handle" in the first post was that you want to hold them, I don't think racers would be good for that (again just my personal experience), they are nervous and don't seem to enjoy handling despite tolerating it. Those big eyes seem fine tuned for the slightest movement and make them easily startled. Any thing else you want to know, just ask.
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Old 05-21-17, 07:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

To just handle wild and put back or keep?

I'd love some blue racers but they are listed endangered and their only large population that could potentially be collected (if they weren't IUCN listed endangered) would be an area of South Dakota. It is illegal to handle, harass, or especially remove from the wild this subspecies of snake. Blue Racer Snake

I would definitely not call racers that aggressive. They have a combo going on that makes them require extra care in handling. They are fast, reactive snakes compared to most and with minimal captive sources. Many species got really bad mentions when they could only be wc because they do not adjust well. A more reactive snake is going to need more adjustment, a quieter location at least to start if not long term, more frequent handling, and more cautious movements when handling. They will key in on movement faster than most and approaching them wrong is more likely to get you bit. That's not aggression so much as the high activity personality of the snake that makes them react sooner with less time to get out of their range or work around them. I was looking into the blue beauty rat snake or vietnamese rat snake lately which gets much the same mention of being reactive, use careful movements, etc... but do have a cb population. I found several on online classifieds by the 2nd page for the species group.

The racers' display of aggression is common to many north american species. They are again just faster to react. Really they are fairly timid and would rather flee if given the option. Very quickly. Handled with more care than snakes you can just reach out and grab they aren't that bad. Even to capture wild. Wild nerodia (water snakes) are noted as quick to bite or go meet a 6' bull snake or other pit species and try to stick your hand out there without knowing what you are doing lol I have a vid of when I got Nicon, my 6.5' bull snake home but it's not very good because at about 3' it was considered strike range for the camera and he was playing full on "I am a rattlesnake" impression all reared up. Being easily captive bred though these guys are nothing like the wild ones I've dealt with (my worst wild snake bite is a bull snake, my worst cb snake bite is a rosy boa) and most quickly settle if you just know how to scoop the body at the right spot to get them up off the ground where they will stop their threat display. Nicon's mostly given up bluffing me out after 2 months and if he really gets himself riled up somewhere he thinks he can defend I throw something over his head as I grab his body to again get him off the ground. After securing him around my arm he gives up.

The difference is simply in the basically higher energy, less settled personality of the racer and I'm not sure you'd find a cb individual. Even ball pythons as wc are considered irritable, difficult to handle, difficult to settle, and difficult to get to feed. We just have a very well established cb population now that has been bred for many generations to the purpose. People worked very hard to make that happen and there was mention in a discussion on here how it furthered the keeping of reptiles to put in that effort so that more species can be adjusted to captive breeding easier and diffuse some of their stronger instincts that make them more stressed therefore more reactive. Racers also need huuuuge space once settled to be happy since they are so active or you will again have problems.
Reptiles: Racers
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Old 05-21-17, 07:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

To be clear, blue racers are not ICUN red-listed, see: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

But akane is right that you'll have to make sure it's legal in the state you live. I believe that blue racers are protected in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I could be wrong, but I also believe the current subspecies classifications for racers in Iowa and South Dakota are Eastern yellow belly racers (previously that both these and blue racers were considered one subspecies).
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Old 05-21-17, 08:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Different species or did they get changed?
From the link I put above (granted the protected areas set aside are canada but still mentioned as IUCN endangered).
Quote:
Conservation Status

The Blue Racers are included in the “Endangered” category by the IUCN. They are on the Endangered Species List of Ontario since 1971 and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Among the areas protected for these Racer Snakes, the Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve and the Stone Road Alvar Complex are most important.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coluber_constrictor_foxii

Hmm.. that does not even bring up the subspecies as evaluated outside the eastern Coluber constrictor in the search box.
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Old 05-21-17, 08:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

I don't think any racer species falls under special protection in Iowa but you cannot collect anything but garter snake (Thamnophis) species in Iowa at all. Nothing can be collected for any reason except special permit that probably requires academic or medical (such as venom acquisition) reasons. You also cannot own any species found in Iowa without proof it was from outside of Iowa. Even then the best authority anyone could come up with said that's not a written law so your proof is only as good as individuals who deal with your situation feel like listening to it.
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Old 05-21-17, 09:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

It's funny, when I go to the link you have I get this:

Quote:
The snake has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List in terms of conservation, but is listed as endangered in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.[1] It is listed as a species of special concern in the state of Wisconsin.[2]

The blue racer has been on Ontario's Endangered Species List since 1971. Consequently, habitat determined to be critical to the snake's persistence is protected (from destruction or significant alteration) under Ontario's Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1998, blue racer "habitat" on Pelee Island was spatially delineated (primarily utilizing mark-recapture and radio telemetry data collected from 19901998), and formally identified for the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). Subsequent to the spatial delineation (or mapping) of this habitat, the OMNR determined that these lands should be protected from destruction or human interference as is required under the ESA. The habitat protection afforded by the ESA has significant land use implications, particularly because a substantial percentage of blue racer habitat identified occurs on private lands. Unfortunately, implementing a program to effectively protect endangered species habitat on private lands has been extremely difficult.Several areas known to harbour blue racers and the important microhabitats used by them (e.g., hibernacula) are formally protected on Pelee Island. Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve and the Stone Road Alvar Complex (owned and managed by the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Essex Region Conservation Authority, and Nature Conservancy Canada) are the two most important protected areas for the blue racer.
Which, aside from the Canadian specific stuff, is what is provided by the official IUCN site. I'll have find the info I saw on the status of the different subspecies, but I think it was saying that what was once considered the blue racer subspecies has recently been broken up into two subspecies, foxii and flaviventris with foxii confined to mostly the great lakes and flaviventris west of the Mississippi.

Quote:
I don't think any racer species falls under special protection in Iowa but you cannot collect anything but garter snake (Thamnophis) species in Iowa at all. Nothing can be collected for any reason except special permit that probably requires academic or medical (such as venom acquisition) reasons. You also cannot own any species found in Iowa without proof it was from outside of Iowa. Even then the best authority anyone could come up with said that's not a written law so your proof is only as good as individuals who deal with your situation feel like listening to it.
I remember you saying the laws regarding keeping native snakes in Iowa was restrictive. From a conservation point of view I suppose it's good, but I can see how it can get frustrating to deal with as an enthusiast.
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Old 05-21-17, 10:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Except they don't allow in snakes that are threatened or endangered here even if thriving elsewhere. Such as you can't have a hognose. How does that help anything? Are the thriving captive bred morphs going to really do any damage to Iowa hognose populations than they do with any illegal activity now? I see no other reason to ban them since no one wants to go hunt down a wc Iowa hognose over a cb if they are everywhere and usually to get a morph anyway so releases from other locations seem the only risk to the population and I don't see that risk over anything else. Why not just require proof it's from out of state/not wc which is easy if it's got a multiple gene morph since that almost never happens wild. If you stop the keeping of a threatened/endangered species instead of just it's collection and it goes extinct you just killed it for certain because now there's no gene pool. Iowa would actually be saved by the fact nowhere else restricts them if people wanted to re-establish a population in the ecosystem.
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Old Yesterday, 03:23 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Wow lots of info here, Thank you everyone. I referred to them as aggressive because my "joey boombatz" Brooklyn Italian friend tells stories. He tells me if you can handle a black racer you can handle anything! Although, as I familiarize myself with the snake handling community, perception has shifted. And im so happy you've all took time here I feel much more comfortable with the idea. They are good looking snakes. I'm in love with the Blue and I did see on my Reptiles subscription the recent Blue Racer in Canada article. I am tempted to make my first bid in field herping but not sure where to go I was told upstate NY.....my friend has an area he likes to frequent apparently lol even if only to catch and release. I have much more respect for the species after all of your shared info.
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Old Yesterday, 06:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

If you catch smaller blue racers you don't want yourself and it's legal I might buy them. Federal, unless anyone has something to say?, and my local law look fine if I'm sent a paper of their collection info for proof so your state just has to allow collection. I'd have to check with my husband on cost since it's maybe $60 to ship multiple smaller ones or 1 or 2 somewhat larger ones from the east coast and if you want anything for the work to get and send them. They grow fast with no babies yet from this year so small is relative for several more months but they'd adjust better and I'd rather get bit by a small one It might be outside my experience level yet but I'd love to eventually accomplish a breeding pair to begin cb and well they live 10+ years to get it right lol If I can get male and female but just owning one for now would be cool.

If you haven't been involved in it shipping is not that hard. Especially for hardy natives crossing the northern US in spring. It's the only way I can get anything but a ball python and a few basic king or corn snakes around here aside from some 4hr one way drives I've made. There's a company you initially just buy the right size supplies and this link has sizing and packing instructions for small (plastic containers) or large (cloth bags). Then they are a special section of the Fedex shipping system so you are dropping off a fed ex package. They'd fly to Indianapolis and then here in less than 48hrs where we have them held at the facility for pickup (needs marked when filling out info of the labels they send you).
https://shipyourreptiles.com/en/get-...ping-standards
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Old Yesterday, 08:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Not sure if you're looking to keep a racer or just do some field herping. Looks like akane covered what you'd need for keeping one. As far as field herping in New York, it looks like the subspecies you'd be dealing with is the Northern Black racer. To get a general idea of where the subspecies fall out geographically, take a look at this: http://blog.herpersguide.com/wp-cont...acer-range.jpg I'm unaware of the source, but from descriptions I've read, it looks to be roughly accurate.

Actually catching one should test your skill, they are very fast and your best bet is to try and corner it somewhere, and that's when the more aggressive behavior shows it's self as they will become defensive when they have no where to go. Good luck.
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Old Today, 11:44 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Opinions on Black/Blue Racers

Thank you whistlepig
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