The Speckled Racer

This black beauty recently paid an uninvited visit to the office of The San Pedro Sun, where he was not particularly greeted with open arms! Although he gave us all a scare, we simply left him alone to venture on his way.
Racer is the name for several related swift, slender snakes, especially those of the genus Coluber. All of the racers are nonpoisonous, non-constricting, day-active snakes. The Speckled Racers (Drymobius margaretiferus) are found in the extreme south of Texas, USA, where it is endangered and protected. Further south it is found along the Gulf Coast into Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula and throughout Central America to northern Colombia. This fast-moving, nervous snake is extremely common in Belize.

Not a robust snake, the adult Speckled Racer averages 30 to 40 inches long. At first glance the snake appears black, but closer up a distinctive speckled pattern is visible. The dorsal scales are black-edged with a yellow spot in the center and a blue base creating the appearance of an overall black-green hue that glistens like sequins in the sunlight. The under belly is white to yellow to green in color.

Speckled Racers occur in both forested and open settings, but seems to prefer dense thickets heavily littered with plant debris, palm groves or brushy river bottoms. It often frequents human settlements and is generally terrestrial. Typically they live near water where their amphibian prey may be located. A diurnal predator, the Speckled Racer feeds primarily on frogs and toads. Occasionally it will eat lizards, reptile eggs and small mammals.

Females lay clutches of two to eight smooth-shelled whitish eggs between April and August. Hatchlings emerge after an incubation period of approximately eight weeks, and measure only about six inches long and are vividly colored.

The Speckled Racer can be found mainly in the early morning daylight hours, just after sun-up. Quick moving and very shy, this is a very difficult snake to observe or catch. If cornered or provoked it will not hesitate to bite. Although it is a non-venomous snake, the bite bleeds copiously, suggesting an anticoagulant in the saliva. Therefore, if by rare chance you spot this beautiful, elusive snake, it is recommended that you observe it from a distance.

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