April, 2009
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Southern Black Racer
Five-lined Skink
White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer
A Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus)
Adult male Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Okefenokee Swamp
A boat trail through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
The black racer is probably the most visible terrestrial snake in the Okefenokee. This snake is harmless, but is
quite aggressive if cornered or captured. They are very alert snakes, often seen with the head raised off the
ground, as in the picture above, to get a better view.

As the name "racer" suggests these are very fast moving snakes. A black snake darting across the trail and
disappearing quickly in the woods is likely to be this snake. When cornered or caught the black racer will strike
violently while vibrating its tail. If the snake is in dry leaves, the vibrating tail makes a rattling noise that could be
mistaken by a predator for the rattle of a rattlesnake.  

In spite of the species name,
Coluber constrictor, black racers are not constrictors. These snakes often swallow
their food live, holding it down with a loop of their body while eating. They have a diverse diet of mice, frogs, birds,
lizards, fish, and other snakes, including poisonous snakes.

The young black racer has brown or grey blotches on a lighter background.

Black racers can be distinguished from other black snakes in the area by the smooth scales and divided anal
plate. Indigo snakes have a single anal plate, rat snakes have keeled scales.
The five-lined skink is a small fast moving lizard. The young five-lined skink has five yellow or white lines running down
the back, two lines on each side and one down the middle of the back, and a bright blue tail. As the lizard ages, the lines
fade and the back becomes almost all grey or olive, usually with some faint remnants of stripes. During the breeding
season the head of the adult male develops an orange color as seen in the picture above.
The white-tailed deer is named for the white underside of its tail. When the deer runs to escape a potential predator
it raises the tail to expose the white underside, which waves like a white flag behind the running deer. When the deer
stops it suddenly drops the tail, making the white flag disappear. If a predator is watching the white tail while chasing
the deer, the deer might seem to disappear when it runs into thick brush and lowers its tail.
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