The first picture is the back end of a beast I saw in the backyard. The second picture is the front end of a beast I saw in the front yard. The backyard version was shorter, about 10-12 inches. The front yard version was 12-15 inches long. Since neither stopped to let me take measurements, I estimated based on the length of the leaves in the picture.
In neither case I did not think “snake” when I first the it. I thought “thick earthworm – or thick and very long earthworm”. Neither moved very fast. Both disappeared under the mulch. The front yard beast definitely had a forked snake-like tongue. Both were very shiny. It was the light reflecting off the skin that drew my attention to each.
I showed the picture of the front yard beast to the people at the Hillsborough County extension office and they suggested that I might have legless lizards rather than snakes. The coloring is not quite right for the legless glass lizards that live here in southern Florida, but the size and coloring isn’t right for the black racer snake either. A juvenile black racer of this size would not be black.
When I was putting in new plants in the backyard near where I saw the backyard beast, I found a snake skin. The landscape people who were here putting in my new irrigation system said that the legless lizards shed skin in patches not in a single piece like I found. That only means that I have or had a snake in the yard and doesn’t confirm whether I saw snakes or legless lizards.
Judging by the picture of a juvenile southern black racer on the PDF document from IFAS, I think they are both black racers. I’ve been told to look them in the eyes next time to determine if I am seeing snakes or not. Somehow, I think I’ll skip that identification tip. I just hope that if these are juvenile black racers that mom and dad and sibling racers live someplace else and not here in my yard.