Mexican Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor oaxaca)
Believe it or not, snakes can be great to have around. After all, they love to eat rodents! But when they move inside (or even near to) our homes, often something must be done. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with a possible racer snake on your property.
Mexican Racer Snake Habits
Mexican racers are found throughout Mexico, and in southern Texas. It is considered to be a subspecies of the Eastern Yellowbellied Racer; the two subspecies are distinguished by the number of lip scales they possess. Average adult size is 2.5 – 5 feet long (66-157 cm). Adult mexican racers are slender, and are an olive gray-green, with a yellow underside. As with all racers, the juvenile coloring is remarkably different: juveniles have a tan or cream colored body with brown or grey blotches. Their color gradually changes as the snake ages, becoming solid olive grey-green around a year old.
Racers are fast moving, highly active, diurnal (active during the day) snakes. Mexican racer diet consists primarily of small rodents (including common household pests such as rats and mice), small birds, chipmunks, lizards, toad and frogs, and other snakes. Juveniles often consume soft-bodied insects, such as crickets and moths.
Despite their scientific name of constrictor, they do not constrict to suffocate their prey, but hold it in place and subdue it. Small prey items are often simply swallowed alive.
Mexican racers are curious snakes with excellent vision, and will sometimes raise their head above the grasses they are crawling in to see their surroundings. Racers can flee quickly from potential predators. However, once cornered they put up a vigorous fight, biting hard and often. They are difficult to handle and will writhe, defecate and release a foul smelling musk from their cloaca. Rattling their tails among dry leaves, racers can sound convincingly like rattlesnakes. They are not poisonous, but their bites can be painful. If bitten by a racer, see a doctor; even with nonpoisonous bites there’s a small risk of infection.
Since racers will eat so many different small animals, they can be found in a variety of areas – wherever they can find food. Most racers prefer open, grassland type habitat where their keen eyesight and speed can be readily used, but they are also found in light forest and even semi-arid regions. Areas of water, brush, trash or wood piles, roadsides, swamps, and residential areas are also favored by this snake. They are usually not far from an area of cover to hide in.
Mexican Racer Snake Control & Removal
There are several steps to dealing with snake problems: making your property less inviting to snakes; discouraging the presence of, or getting rid of, the rodents and other small animals they feed upon; and dealing with any snakes that are already there.
In wooded, rural and riparian settings where snakes are common, their presence (and the presence of rodents) can be discouraged by eliminating stands of tall vegetation and removing piles of rock, lumber, and debris that might attract snakes to search for prey or to seek shelter. Closing entrances to rodent burrows make an area less attractive to snakes.
Keeping snakes out of a home, garage, or building is very similar to keeping out rodents. Structural gaps and crevices larger than 1/4 inch and within three feet of grade should be closed off; snakes can pass through very small openings. Crawlspace vents should not have screens with larger than 1/4 inch mesh. If snakes are gaining access into a building, a thorough search should be made for cracks in the foundation, unscreened crawlspace vents, holes or tears in mesh or screens, and gaps around basement window frames. It is important to check clearance under doors, and look for improper sealing where plumbing and utility lines enter the building.
There’s a variety of snake repellents: scent-based and ultrasonic. They’ve had mixed to no effectiveness in keeping snakes away. Save your money and efforts for the habitat modifications listed here.
Rodent Proofing Your Home
Many of these steps echo the measures mentioned above for keeping snakes out of a structure, but they more entrances for snakes or rats you can close, the better:
· Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves.
· Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
· Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation.
· Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition.
· Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester.
· Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
· Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
· Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.
· Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weather stripping.
· Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
· Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for rodents.
· Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
· Keep your trees trimmed, and your bushes and vines thinned. Make sure trees are trimmed back from the house at least 4 feet.
· Keep lids on garbage cans.
· Clean up all debris in the yard and storage areas.
· Seal around your attic.
· Don't leave pet food outside, especially at night.
· Pick your citrus as soon as it is ripe. Remove any fallen citrus from the ground.
· Store wood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from walls.
· Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets.
If you do have mice or rats on your home, please see other articles on this website for details on how to best deal with them.
Mexican Racer Snake Removal
We recommend that you not kill snakes. In some areas of the country, racer snake populations are declining. In addition, killing snakes may result in a population explosion of the animals they preyed upon. Which would you rather deal with: a few snakes, or an infestation of rats or mice? Taking the steps listed above will help keep the snakes at bay.
Glue traps are a good way to catch snakes; vegetable oil spray will release the snake from the trap. There are several available online. Before you start, though, you need to be sure what kind of snake you have. If you have any doubt about which kind of snake you have, or if you are unwilling to deal with the trapped snake after it’s been caught, a call to a pest control company is warranted. You can find More Snake Removal Information Here.