in #animals7 years ago (edited)

Often, accurately identifying similar creatures can be difficult.

Here in Arkansas, there are a lot of snakes. (Have you have seen any of my other posts?) Many can look very similar, which can often lead to some confusion. This post is an attempt to help educate people about a few of the more beneficial, non-venomous species in North America. Thankfully, any indigenous snake that happens to be long and black will be non-venomous. The pit vipers like the Copperhead, Water Moccasin, and the Rattlesnakes are mostly stouter and are not solid black, so they can be easier to distinguish from the snakes that I am about to share with you.



These are two fairly common species here in Arkansas, and they both also inhabited certain areas back in Wisconsin, so they have quite a range across the United States. As I said earlier, both of these snakes are non-venomous. They can also both grow several feet long and are great in helping to keep down the rodent population. Here is a short video of my explaining some of the differences.


One of the first distinguishing characteristics is the head shape. The Racer of the left has a more slender head shape, where the width of the head is much more in line with the width of the body. The Black Rat Snake on the right has a body that narrows more at the neck and jaws that flare out farther than the width of the rest of the head, creating more of an "arrow" shape.

If you look at the scales on both of these species, they will look rather similar. Snake scales are snake scales, right? Well, there are differences. Let's have a closer look.

If you look at the scales on the Black Rat Snake on top, you'll notice that there are lines running down the center of the scales. Scales with these ridges running down the center of the center of them are called keeled scales. They differ from the smooth type of scales, as found on the Racer. These keeled scales also make the snake more rough to the touch.

The juveniles of these species are a whole different story, but at the adult age, you'll see still see some distinct differences from the side view. For one, some of the pattern can still be seen on the upper body of the Black Rat Snake. By this age, the Racers have mostly a uniform upper body color. Let's flip them over for a closer look at the bellies.

Here you can see another obvious difference. The Racer on the bottom will usually have a white or creme colored underbelly, which will be uniform for the majority of the length of it. Sometimes a more yellow coloration near the throat will be present, but the belly is mostly one solid color.

On the Black Rat Snake, however, there is a big difference with the underbelly color. From my observations, the underside usually starts out white under the throat, eventually transitions into a sporadic white with black spots coloration, then to black with sporadic red spots, and finally becomes a sleek, solid black color before the tail. This photo does not do this transition justice, so please refer to the video above for more on this matter.


The two longer, darker North American snakes overlap in their habitats and distribution. Both play important roles in the ecosystem and fill specific niches, and both are beneficial. Neither is venomous, and they usually will only bite in defense, which often happens when they are captured by humans.

Despite the similarities, there are some obvious differences as well. Hopefully this post had provided you with some information that will be helpful if you ever need to tell the two species apart.

As always, I'm @papa-pepper and here's the proof:


Until next time…

Don’t waste your time online, invest it with



"Neither is venomous" . Is this have meaning those snakes non-venomous ? (sorry my own language is not English sometimes I confuse with word neither... :) ). Nice ! :)

Correct, both are non-venomous.

Thank you.... Papa ! :)

@Papa-pepper - How can I get over my fear of snakes?

I'd recommend finding a nice one and getting acquainted. A lot of times fear can be based on perception rather than reality. It may be that you are afraid of what you think snakes are, rather than what they actually are. Other than the extremely large snakes and the venomous species, the vast majority of snakes pose almost no real threat to anyone.

Do you know anyone with a Ball Python?

Well said! You are definitely correct. I came into close contact with what we believed was a water moccasin when I was a little kid that has scarred me since!

I know someone who has a small ball python now that you mention it. She isn't super close but a friend of a friend

I'd seriously recommend seeing if you can check it out. Often, pet owners don't mind showing off their pets. A small one is even better! Just explain your situation and see what happens. Might even make a good post!

She has offered multiple times! i just haven't taken her up on it! It would make for a great post!

I used to have fear of snakes and spiders. I overcame both by buying a corn snake and a tarantula (at different times). I started by just observing them and worked my way up to handling them until I became unafraid. They are really both amazing creatures with their own personalities. Facing your fears is a great way to increase your confidence.

That is quite impressive to overcome the fear of both of those. I feel like many people are afraid of both snakes and spiders. I just googled "Corn Snake" and they are beautiful. I just need to face this fear and become comfortable with them. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Please let us know how it goes. Take your time and slowly expand your comfort zone if you need to.

Great advice and way to go!

You are brave. It is the animal I am most afraid of, the snake

Thanks, but I'm not really that brave.

I couldn't possibly count the number of times I've had trouble distinguishing between a Racer and a Black Rat Snake! :)

All kidding aside, that's a great post and it's good to know that a black snake in The USA can't fill me with venom!

Keep up the great posts @papa-pepper you're a Steemit legend!

Yeah, counting to ZERO can be difficult! Lol.

You the man!

So when a black snake climbs i to bed with me on our adventure I can roll over and go to sleep? Invite it to breakfast more like.

Whats a great info. Nów I have knowledge about snakes particular snakes. Thank you it is very interesting I didn't know that. I follow your blog to learn more about interesting topics. You welcome to follow my blog. Have a great day. 🤗

You kick ass, Papa :D Upvoted


Opinions vary, but I like yours!

From your proof photo, the racer looks more streamlined and therefore probably much faster. Good write-up on identifying these two snakes. Good morning Son!

Hmmm.... perhaps that's where it gets its name from Dad. Thanks, and good morning to you!

Are you papa... modern snake master?

Been there, done that, but without the knife and monkey.

Thanks for showing the differences, and educating us @papa-pepper! Keep up the great work my friend:)

Thanks @steemit-life!

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