In 1995, the Ohio Legislature made the Black Racer Ohio's official reptile due to the snake's prevalence in the state. The Black Racer's scientific name is Coluber constrictor constrictor. The Black Racer can be found primarily in Ohio's eastern and southern counties and is closely related Blue Racer which lives in the northern and western portion of the state. The only real difference between these two snakes is their color: Black Racers being entirely black and Blue Racers have a gray or greenish tint to their skin.
The black racer is called a racer because of its speed. It can maneuver about at speeds around 10 miles per hour, so if you're ever attacked by a black racer, you'll have to run fast. (For those that take things literally, this was stated in jest. Both varieties of racers found in Ohio are non-poisonous and are actually help out farmers a bit by eating lots of rodents that create problems for some of their crops).
Did you Know?
At one time snake bite was one of the leading causes of death
in Ohio. Rattlesnakes were a very common reptile and found just about everywhere, but in particular rocky areas. Reading the diaries of early pioneers they tell of their distrust of these snakes and even abject fear. Coming from the east, rattlesnake populations had been mostly eradicated, but coming to Ohio, they were alive and well and quite deadly. Rattlesnake venom was not available and a snake bite could easily prove fatal. Not to worry today. While there still are a few rattlesnakes in Ohio, they are really in out of the way places. The "black racer" is a non-poisonous snake.
How deadly is a black racer?
Fortunately, the black racer is non-venomous. Most of them will turn and flee when confronted by a human. However (there always seems to be a however), sometimes a black racer will strike at people if they feel trapped. Again, they are non-venomous, but if they strike, they will bite and it is painful. Don't try and take a selfie with one. Also, some black racers when threatened, may shake their tail like a rattlesnake. It's their way of letting you know they don't know what they're doing.
Black racers are found in most of southern and eastern Ohio.