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Black Racer Snake

Updated on October 3, 2014
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Louisiana has abundant wildlife, including reptiles such as snakes and turtles. All are welcome in Yvonne's backyard wildlife habitat.

Reptile: Blue Runner, Black Runner - Beneficial and Beautiful

Black Racers are very fast, non-poisonous, black snakes with a bluish cast to their scales. Other names for this handsome, non-venomous snake are Blue Racer, Blue Runner and Black Runner.

Most Racers do not enjoy being handled. Black racers eat mostly mice and rats, so are extremely beneficial snakes to have around.

This page focuses on the Southern Black Racer and its sub-species which are found in Louisiana. The Southern Black Racer occurs in habitats all over Louisiana and throughout most of the Southeastern United States.

 

Photos by Y.L. Bordelon unless noted otherwise.

Black Racers

are often called Black Runners & also Blue Racers because of the blue tinge of their scales. There are many common names for & subspecies of Coluber constrictor and also one species called the Blue Runner which does not live in Louisiana. Racers move very quickly and can be out of sight in the blink of an eye.

Welcome to Our Black Racer Page

Black Racer Face
Black Racer Face

You'll find many photos and lots of information about Black Racer Snakes in Louisiana. There is also a quiz, so you can test your knowledge of this beneficial and beautiful reptile. Many of the photographs are available for purchase in the Naturegirl7 Reptile and Amphibian Shop on Zazzle.com. We hope you have a great time while you are here.

Coluber constrictor

Louisiana Subspecies

There are five subspecies of Black Racers that occur in Louisiana. They are:

 ~ The Southern Black Racer, Coluber constrictor priapus which is characterized by a black dorsum and slate gray or black venter;

 ~ The Black-masked racer, Coluber constrictor latrunculus, characterized by a slate gray dorsum, a bluish gray venter and a broad black stripe behind the eye;

 ~ The Eastern yellow-bellied racer, Coluber constrictor flaviventris characterized by an olive green dorsum and a light yellow venter;

 ~ The Tan racer, Coluber constrictor etheridgei, characterized by a light tan dorsum with some light spotting and a grayish white venter; and

 ~ The Buttermilk racer, Coluber constrictor anthicus, characterized by a blue, blue-black or blue-green dorsum with a variable amount of light spotting and a grayish white venter.

Despite their Latin name, Racers are NOT constrictors. They hunt prey, with their head held high, when it is spotted, they race towards it, seize it and then swallow it alive. They may chew on larger prey until they stop struggling.

Racers lay clutches of 6 to 18 granular white eggs from June through September in such places as soft moist soil beside decaying logs, in decaying wood pulp or in depressions in clumps of grass. The hatchlings don't look like the adults and have light-colored bodies with dark blotches along the back and sides.

 

(reference: Dundee, Harold A. and Douglas A. Rossman, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana)

Long Black Racer on Zazzle

One of the first racers out in early spring.
One of the first racers out in early spring. | Source

Racer Subspecies of Louisiana

A. Southern black racer, Coluber constrictor priapus

B. Black-masked Racer, Coluber constrictor latrunculus

C. Eastern yellow-bellied racer, Coluber constrictor flaviventris

D. Tan racer, Coluber constrictor etheridgei

E. Buttermilk racer, Coluber constrictor anthicus

F. Juvenile racer, Coluber constrictor

Louisiana Racer Subspecies
Louisiana Racer Subspecies

*photo reference: Dundee, Harold A. and Douglas A. Rossman, The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana

Black Racer Poll

Do you have Black Racers (Coluber constrictor) in your area?

See results

Adult Black Racer in Early Spring

Early Spring Racer by Y.L. Bordelon
Early Spring Racer by Y.L. Bordelon

The photo was taken early in the spring, when the weather was still cool. This Black Racer was still a little sluggish and is trying to warm its body in the sun. In Louisiana they appear in late February or early March, depending on how hard the winter was.

Since black racers are normally so fast, early spring, when they are sluggish, is a good time to photograph them.


Hunting for Food

Source

Black Racers hunt down their prey. They move quickly along the forest floor, with their head held high, always alert. When prey is detected, Racers quickly grab it and swallow it whole, sometimes while it is still alive.

The "constrictor" in their scientific name is a misnomer. I suppose, it was once thought that they squeezed their prey, but now scientists know that they don't. However, the name sticks.

North American Racer Snake

All about the various species of racer snakes in North America. Check it out for more information.

Young Black Racer Showing Blue Flecks

Young Black Racer Showing Blue by Y.L. Bordelon
Young Black Racer Showing Blue by Y.L. Bordelon | Source

Notice the hint of blue where the sun is hitting the scales of this young Black Racer. This is why some people in Louisiana call them Blue Runners.

There is also a species of Racer which inhabits other parts of the United States which is called the Blue Racer. Common names can be deceiving, with different species being given the same common name or with the same species being called different common names in separate locations.

Black Racer in Kinked Position

Source

The odd looking "kinked" posture of this individual is often seen. Some believe that this is a defense mechanism. They look a lot like a fallen branch.

Another defensive reaction is that when threatened, if running away is not successful, they will hide in the brush and rattle their tails in dry leaves, sounding much like a rattlesnake.

Baby Black Racers

Very young black racers are marked differently from the adult of the species. The young are speckled with black, white and tan spots. As they age, they darken into adult coloration.

 

Young Black Racer

Source

Black Racers also have a reputation for biting when they are caught. It seems that they develop this defense mechanism very early in life as you can see by the picture below. We happily released the little bugger after the brief photo op.


Baby Black Racer Bites

Source

Snakes of the U.S. and Canada

An excellent resource to identify United States and Canadian reptiles.

Black Racer in Fall

Source

Fall weather does not come to Louisiana until October. During September, when this photo was taken, Black Racers and other snakes are still active.

I came across this one coiled in the weeds in a sunny spot not too far from a hummingbird feeder which was being used by many migrating hummingbirds. Hummingbirds battle over feeders and sometimes knock each other to the ground, so I believe this Racer had positioned itself to take advantage of this.

After its photo op, I chased it away from the feeder. Hopefully it found a more substantial meal like a rat or a mouse.

Herping with Dylan: Blue Racer Video

Samantha the Black Racer

A wonderful children's book about a black racer.

Black Racer Poster on Zazzle

Source

New Encyclopedia of Snakes

The New Encyclopedia of Snakes
The New Encyclopedia of Snakes

Nice illustrations and accurate information.

 

Black Racer Sunning in Early March

Black Racer Sunning in Early March
Black Racer Sunning in Early March

Snakes Are Hunters


Snakes Are Hunters

Perfect for the little snake lover in your life and it's a Reading Rainbow selection.

Northern and Southern

The Northern Black Racer, Coluber constrictor constrictor occurs in the uppermost parts of the southeastern U.S. The Southern Black Racer, Coluber constrictor priapus, inhabits most of Louisiana.


Snakes of Eastern and Central North America


Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico)

A wonderful guide for Eastern and Central North American snakes.

Black Racer in Leaves

Black Racer in Leaves
Black Racer in Leaves

Lizards and Crocodilians of the Southeast

If you are a fan of reptiles, then you'll probably also enjoy this book.

Black Racers have round eyes & are non-venomous.

Black Racers have round eyes & are non-venomous.
Black Racers have round eyes & are non-venomous.

© 2008 Yvonne L. B.

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    • profile image

      jeannette-r-thompson 3 years ago

      I've seen one of these three times in my yard here in Southwest Louisiana. Two times through the window and another time as I rounded the corner of the house. It was coming toward me and I think I frightened that snake more than it frightened me...lol So, I don't believe that they actually chase people. :)

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      I like snakes. I also have a healthy respect for them and don't go near snakes I don't recognise. I wouldn't have known these fellas so thanks for introducing them to me.

    • potovanja profile image

      potovanja 5 years ago

      Great lens. Worth my LIKES:). Thank you to stop by to see my lens...

    • SpenceG profile image

      SpenceG 5 years ago

      Cool snakes. Reading your lens is like watching Animal Planet.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: Are you familiar with Ring-necked snakes. Even as adults they are tiny. They are slate gray on top with a yellow-orange ring on their neck. Their bellies are orange or yellow, too, but you usually don't see the belly. They often go into houses. Here's a page I wrote about them: https://hubpages.com/animals/ring-neck-snake-louis

      We don't know how old the baby black racer was in the picture above (with my husband's hand). It was not newly hatched though. Baby black racers have lots of speckles and don't start turning a solid color until they are several months old.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      how small are the babies when they are newborn? I found something in my house and am not sure if it's a worm or baby snake. It moved like a racer, very fast when I tried to catch it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just watched a black racer zip into my garage and snatch up a mole skink. It was pretty cool.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Interesting lens, great job!

    • profile image

      glutenallergy 5 years ago

      We live in Florida and see lots of black racers. My first experience with one gave me quite a scare. I was removing old mulch and had grabbed a handful. When I removed my hand from the dirt, several baby snakes wriggled out where my hand had just been. I jumped back (and screamed), and looked at the babies.

      They were sort of blue, black, and brown, and had a unique pattern I'd never seen before. Not knowing what they were, I ran into the house to research them, and discovered they were baby black racers.

      As you show in your pictures, they look nothing like the adults. I was just relieved that they weren't poisonous!

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      I love snakes. The amount of work you've put on your lens is astounding.

    • profile image

      CASHGURU 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. i love all reptiles they are fascinating.

    • jayceehaynes profile image

      jayceehaynes 5 years ago

      nice lens:)

    • wcjohnston profile image

      wcjohnston 5 years ago

      Great lens, love it

    • profile image

      DSteelman 5 years ago

      wow.. what a great lens.. I love snakes and this was a great, informational read this morning.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 5 years ago

      I don't think we have them in the northeast, we do have garter snakes, ring necks, and I was fortunate enough to see a beautiful green snake...it was crossing our street so not hidden in the surrounding vegetation...then there are the FAT lazy ones that like to "hang out" sometimes on the rocks in certain areas of our lake. I am not afraid of snakes unless they appear suddenly, or almost step on one, have held them, had garters as pets, their skin/scales actually feels so smooth.

    • profile image

      LisaWhite 5 years ago

      nice lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      what a cool snake :)

      And great lens

    • winter aconite profile image

      winter aconite 5 years ago

      I love snakes....lovely lens!

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 5 years ago

      I see Black Racers in my yard (in North Idaho) when I mow, and some years there are so many they have the misfortune of getting caught in the mower blade :(. Would you be surprised to find a Black Racer ended up in our pond and ate one of the juvenile fish? I was not very happy with said snake. I am a botanist and we "botanize"...I think "herping" is great! A very informative lens.

    • profile image

      jammarti 5 years ago

      Good information! Now I know another type of snake.

    • AgingIntoDisabi profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 5 years ago

      Never heard of this snake so thanks for introducing me to it!

    • AgingIntoDisabi profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 5 years ago

      Never heard of this snake so thanks for introducing me to it!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      Had a green racer in my backyard last week. First one I've seen in a number of years. I love snakes, and this article is great!

    • profile image

      kendrafowler 5 years ago

      Fantastic! Loved the pic of the lil one trying to bite ! Snakes always fascinated me and this was very interesting!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      Very interesting topic, it reminded me that when I was a teenager, my friends and I were catching snakes everywhere, it was really exciting and fun, especially when we discover some a snake whenever we turn over a stone.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 5 years ago from WNY

      Very interesting -- I really enjoy learning about snakes! :)

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Such an interesting lens - pictures are amazing ~blessed~

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I like the sunning snake photo. These are a cool species. Enjoyed learning about them.

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      We had quite an experience with 3 huge snakes in the backyard of my mother-in-law's house this past weekend - even though I knew the snakes weren't poisonous, I was very uncomfortable being close to them. I am not a big fan of snakes, but the little black racer snakes in your pictures look kind of cute :)

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      Great information here! Well deserved of the purple star

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image

      vBizeso 5 years ago

      Nice Lens

    • SquidooMBA profile image

      SquidooMBA 5 years ago

      Nice lens. Even the security word said "faster".

    • profile image

      trendydad 5 years ago

      great job on the purple lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens, just wow.. No wonder this one won a purple lens..

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      I think this the fella that's been showing up on my patio lately. He was moving across the brick ledge on my wall ths other day with his head and body standing up about 8 inches. Thanks for the information. Very good lens.

    • profile image

      GregCunningham 5 years ago

      Thanks for the informaiton.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very nice lens! All the information you need at your fingertips.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      Nice lens! I love snakes; they're beautiful. Except in water- they creep me out in the water!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Blessed!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      My son's dog brought me one of these last week! So sweet LOL. He'd lost part of his tail in the battle with the dog and my husband put him back over in the pond.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      The Black Racer is the one snake that I've personally seen the most in my yards here in Florida. One of the last ones to visit me I found by accident ... as I rummaged in some leaves at the side of my house, he appeared! Yikes ... I followed him as he quickly went down the side of my house to the back ... and up into my patio door. His tongue could be seen at the bottom edge. Thank goodness there was a lip on the door and he didn't come in.

    • jed78 profile image

      jed78 5 years ago

      Nice, we mostly have rat snakes and water snakes around here.

    • profile image

      misslavenderrose 5 years ago

      I want some to kill the rodents in my flower garden. How can I get/buy them?

    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 5 years ago

      I don't like snakes, sorry.

    • WilliamPower profile image

      WilliamPower 5 years ago

      Excellent lens on snakes.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      ANOTHER Nifty Lens!

    • TopToysForKids profile image

      TopToysForKids 6 years ago

      I love the yellow one....it looks all chill....=) I'll have to come by again when I have some more time...

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      Wow - interesting - nice job - very educational - great photos!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago from Redcar

      Amazing snake - amazing lense - will be sure to visit again.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 6 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      You've got some amazing photos here - I'm from the UK so I've never seen a Black Racer! I think snakes are interesting and beautiful creatures but we have very few indigenous snakes here so the only ones I ever get to see are in pet shops or zoos :( A really interesting and informative lens - blessed by this Squid Angel as part of the "Back To School Bus Trip"!

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love snakes. Great lens!

    • BlueDunDan profile image

      BlueDunDan 6 years ago

      We have many Black Racers up here. I have found that Black Racers have a chip on their shoulder. They are angry herps!

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 6 years ago

      I did 100%> Find this lens very interesting, thank you.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      @ChrisDay LM: Sorry about that. I think you may have taken the quiz before I had double checked to make sure that I clicked the correct answers. There were 2 that I forgotten to change from A to B. It was late and I was sleepy. ;)

      We'll count you as having 100% in the grade book.

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 6 years ago from California

      Liked this lens, snakes are very interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I just know that I'm going to be dreaming of snakes tonight! 80%!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Thanks for the fascinating lens. I have never seen one of these (UK). BTW, I don't know whether there's a bug but the quiz logged me as giving 2 wrong answers, whereas I had clicked the correct answers.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: Sorry to be so long in responding. Without more information I can't tell you whether the snake may be venomous or not. I would suggest calling a local herpetologist or someone who handles and/or sells snakes for help.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @OldGrampa: how do u catch a snake?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have a darkblue snake in my wall that has a yellowish strip. How do i get him out?

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      that racer looks like he can bite me so fast i wouldn't know what happened!

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love snakes, very cool! Thanks for sharing.

    • photofk3 profile image

      photofk3 6 years ago

      I like snakes. Thank you for this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      thank you i have handled these snakes b4 but only my brother has gotten bit. this is also grate b/c im doing a report on reptiles.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      The first time we saw one of these, we checked the internet to identify it. You page would have been a big help. Great photos.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very interesting article. Love all your photos. Blessed.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      @naturegirl7s: P.S. In Snakes of the Southeast by Gibbons and Dorcus it says that the Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor) occurs in the upper eastern part of southeastern U.S. You can find this well researched and well written book at most libraries and bookstores.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      @anonymous: Snake Charmer,

      Thanks for your comment about some of the Coluber species which inhabit other parts of the U.S. This article focuses on the Coluber constrictor sub species that inhabit Louisiana. They are called by many common names besides black racer or runner and blue racer or runner. I failed to include the Latin or scientific name for the various subspecies that I listed (with a brief description including color), but that will be rectified shortly. However, you can find much of the same information of the Louisiana sub-species, with pictures and scientific names later in the article.

      This article is ongoing and we are constantly updating it and making improvements as we encounter these wonderful creatures.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This article is very misleading as far as the Racer (Coluber constrictor)

      sometimes being called blue.. There are Blue Racers (Coluber constrictor foxi) so not mentioning this will lead to people believing all blue colored Racers are black Racers. In addition there is no species called a Northern Black Racer nor a Black Racer, there are Racers (Coluber constrictor) which are black, blue, brown, or greenish and there are Southern Black Racers (Coluber constrictor priapus) which are black and Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) which are pale blue, bluish-green, olive-green, gray, or brown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Although this site looks very professionally done it is severely lacking in actual facts.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yo ur cool

    • profile image

      bigbike4 7 years ago

      Here in Tennessee it is Illegal to kill any snake unless you are physically threatened. Snakes are such a vital part of the eco system and the state protects them. Hell they even drop rattlesnakes from helicopters over the mountain areas to keep mice, rat and small mammal populations in check.

      as I write this it is MAY and about the only time of the year for me to see snakes, most of the time they are out doing snake things in fields and on the mountains. And I am content to leave them do their snake thing right where they are. It is only when they come close to my house or my car that I feel threatened. Seems like we do have a few venoumous snakes down here-rattlers, copperheads and such. Thankfully most snakes will flee when they see a human. Cept for that one the other day that was crawling in my porch beams! I did not want to get home at 3am to find it inside my house or in my bed.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      I'm one of those people who are not able to distinguish one snake from the other. It seems to me that all snakes are venomous and will kill a victim in an instant. It is good to be informed though. Thanks for sharing what you know. 5*

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      @Airinka: Thanks for the comment... sorry you feel that way about snakes. To us, they are another of this planet's interesting and beneficial creatures, that are an important link in the food chain and the cycle of life.

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      Nasty snakes...

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 7 years ago

      I really don't like snakes and yet at the same time they are fascinating. I'm glad the racers are not venemous. Great and informative lens.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens (I have digged and delicioused and favourited this). Beautiful snakes. We have very few snakes in England (just three different species) but it's always great to catch a glimpse of one. Thanks very much for featuring my lenses in your excellent Nature at its best blog too

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 8 years ago from Covington, LA

      We are so blessed to have a good population of beautiful black racers on our 9 acre backyard wildlife habitat.

    • profile image

      beachbum_gabby 8 years ago

      awesome lens but still afraid to all kinds of snakes ^__^

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Excellent Lens. 5*

      If you get a chance check out my Instant Stress Management lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Sarunas profile image

      Sarunas 8 years ago

      Awesome lens.

      I gave you 5 stars.

      Keep it up. :)

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      This is an excellent lens. Blessings.

    • Janusz LM profile image

      Janusz LM 8 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      We have something like these in Massachusetts. I used to call them belt snakes when I was little because I thought I dropped my belt from the clothesline and it turned out to be a striped snake! Same colors as my belt and everything. Great work here, Squid Angel blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens, living in south Florida, I see black racers in my yard on a regular basis. I've taken photos of them, they are beautiful!

      Debra

      (favorite and 5*)

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Wow. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I am OK with snakes as long as they are not venomous. We don't see snakes very often in the UK and only have one poisonous one, but providing you get medical treatment relatively quickly, you should be fine.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      I knnow we have these in SC but I've never seen one.

      Great lens.

      Lizzy

    • profile image

      coopd 9 years ago

      Another great lens! Thank you for joining my Nature Lovers group :)

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

      Lizzy

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Oooh, I could use one of these in my laundry room. A mouse with an appetite for plastic hoses has caused over $500 damage to my new washing machine! Wonderful lens, as usual.

    • OldGrampa profile image

      OldGrampa 9 years ago

      I have always loved all animals including snakes. I try never to kill one, but I have caught copperheads and taken them elsewhere (like back into the woods where they belong)