Iowa’s Fastest Snake: The Blue Racer
The Iowa DNR says that the Blue Racer (commonly known as the Eastern Racer) is the fastest of Iowa’s 28 snake species, topping out at four miles per hour --- which doesn’t sound very fast, but that’s nearly six feet PER SECOND.
It’s also one of the longest snakes in Iowa, ranging from 3-5’ in length. It has great eyesight and has even been known to hunt in tree canopies.
They are non-venomous, but when threatened they may shake their tail to mimic a rattlesnake. Even though they are non-venomous, they can surely lash out and cause a painful bite.
Have you seen one? According to Iowaherps.com, they have been mainly found in Iowa in areas south of Highway 20. One was spotted in Linn County in 2020.
You can find them all throughout the Midwest, including the border states of Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Minnesota. It’s also been spotted in Ohio, Indiana, as far west as Oregon and Washington, and as far south as Kentucky.
The blue racer is active during the day and can be found in semi-open habitats, meadows, or weedy lake edges and marshes.
It's distinguished by its gray or bluish color on its smooth scales. The head is usually darker than the rest of the body and the bellies of these snakes are a milky white color.
They do not like it when humans are around and are usually among the first snake species to disappear from developing areas.
Adults will eat anything from rodents, frogs, other snakes, and even some small birds when they are active in warmer weather from late April to October.
If you see one, you can report it to herpmapper.org.