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Black Racer

Coluber constrictor priapus (southern black racer)
Andrew Hoffman
Coluber constrictor priapus (southern black racer)

The southern black racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) is one of the more common subspecies of the non-venomous Coluber constrictor snake species of the Southeastern United States. The subspecific name priapus refers to the proximal spines of the hemipenes being much enlarged into basal hooks, which is characteristic of this subspecies. These snakes are quite active during the day, which increases the chance of sightings. They eat almost any animal they can overpower, including rodents, frogs, toads, and lizards. Members of this species generally do not tolerate handling – even after months in captivity – and typically strike and flail wildly every time they are handled, often defecating a foul-smelling musk, a common defense against predators in snakes.

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.