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ASK OTUS DON'T FEAR THE BLACK RACER, BECAUSE IT IS VERY GOOD AT PEST CONTROL Dear Otus, My husband, Hiram, took this photo of a black snake when we were visiting his mother on Siesta Key last summer. When we visited her again last month we saw the snake again. Is it poisonous? Hy's mom has a Maltese terrier she lets run in the backyard. Thank you. Ellen Taubman Dear Ellen, What a great photo Hiram took! The snake is instantly recognizable as an adult Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus). The Black Racer's dorsal side is jet black, its chin is white and its belly is gray. These non-venomous snakes are typically quite active during daylight hours, so it is not surprising that both of you saw one. They are very common around our key and are good mousers, but they also eat other small ro- dents, frogs, anoles, insects, bird eggs and even small birds. That is very similar to my diet, but I do enjoy the occasional crustacean and eschew dragonflies. This Black Racer makes its home on Siesta Key. Photo courtesy of Hiram Taubman

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