Michigan Snakes: Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxi)

Blue Racer

Blue Racer, photo by d charvat.

“I liked to go on the road and catch the blue racers and sort of scare my brothers,” she said. “I’d drape them around my neck and around my wrist. I was the ultimate tomboy when I grew up here in Manistee and I loved the Great Lakes. “
~Ann Romney recalling her Michigan childhood (article)

While Mitt Romney’s “the trees are the right height” memories of Michigan drew some laughter, I doubt that anyone would laugh at tomboy Ann Davies with a couple of blue racers draped around her arms.

The DNR’s page on Michigan snakes says that Michigan has 17 native species. Their Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxi) page explains:

A large gray or blue snake with smooth scales. The head is usually darker than the body, though the chin and throat are white. The belly is light blue or white. Young racers are grayish, with a pattern of darker blotches and spots. Adult length: 4 to 6 feet.

Racers inhabit a variety of places, including open woods, meadows, hedge rows, marshes, and weedy lake edges. They are alert, active snakes that may climb into low bushes to escape enemies. These snakes feed on rodents, frogs, smaller snakes, birds, and insects. Although they will bite if cornered or grabbed, racers are not venomous.

Females lay 6 to 25 eggs in rotting wood or underground during June and July. The young racers hatch in late summer and, as noted above, are colored differently than the adults.

Racers have been found through most of the Lower Peninsula (except the northernmost sections) and the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula. Once common, their numbers have fallen in many places. Needless persecution by humans as well as habitat loss are probable factors in this decline.

The Coluber constrictor Eastern Racer entry from Animal Diversity Web says that the blue racer is one of several different racer subpopulations and adds a lot more information and photos including that in the wild, racers have been known to live over 10 years. You can also watch a cool video of a BIG blue racer by the Saline Snake Guy.

d charvat writes that they saw this good-sized blue racer while hiking in the Middleville MI state game area. Check it out background big and see a lot more cool shots from out and about in their slideshow.

6 thoughts on “Michigan Snakes: Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxi)

  1. I recall playing in the woods as a boy in central lower MI, in Lakeview in Montcalm county and being chased through the woods on 2 seperate occasions. The name racer is quite appropriate and trust me, their defense is effective. Nobody stuck around once those bad boys came after us.

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  2. The Blue Racer is the reason I am mostly afraid of snakes today. We had a large yard that had trees, brush, grape vines, etc. Perfect spot in MI. For the racer. We had snakes all the time. My dad always told me they were great for the yard and they wouldn’t hurt us. Right…. Nothing worse than being 10 and running from one. As a 42 year old woman, that memory still haunts me. They do get pretty large. To this day, I see a snake, I become an Olympic runner.

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    1. Aw. It’s true they won’t hurt you if you’re bigger than a rat, but they are still a menacing looking snake. One of them scared the heck out of me when I was about 6.

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  3. I consider this animal very special. I think the Native Americans ( i.e. “First Peoples” if you are Canadian) had something when they spoke of “totems” or whatever the term is. A very neat looking snake after a shed. I almost cried when my lawnmower killed one (dang mower). Needless to say, I let the grass go abit after that. Once, one surprised my mother when she was out visiting, and we quickly returned from our walk (dang snake). We also had grapevines…..Hmmm.

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  4. A beautiful snake! We have some on the small farm I live on. The snake would get into the garden and get tangled in the golf ball netting put up to deter rabbits and such.(we stopped using it.) We would cut the snake loose when we found them hoping they would not die as the netting was cutting them in two! I have found several of their shed skins, one complete while mowing. Thanks for the article.

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