Antiguan racer

Antiguan racer

Antiguan racer

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Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Alsophis antiguae

The Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae ) is a harmless rear-fanged (opisthoglyphous) grey-brown snake that was until recently found only on Great Bird Island off the coast of Antigua, in the eastern Caribbean. It is among the rarest snakes in the world. However, in the last 20 years, conservation efforts have boosted numbers from an estimated 50 to over 1,100 individuals by eradicating non-native predators and reintroducing the snake to other Antiguan islands in its original range. In addition to Great Bird Island, the Antiguan racer has successfully recolonised the nearby Rabbit Island, Green Island, and York Island.

Appearance

This racer exhibits sexual dimorphism. The adult racer is typically about 1 m long, with females being larger than the males. Young adult males are usually dark brown with light creamy markings, while young females are silvery-gray with pale brown patches and markings. Females also have larger heads than the males. However, older individuals of both sexes can be highly variable in colour hue and pattern, and are frequently heavily speckled or blotched in a range of hues, including white, taupe, reddish brown, brown, and black.

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Biogeographical realms

The Antiguan racer originally inhabited Antigua and Barbuda and probably all of the islands on the Antigua Bank. By 1995, the species was found only on Great Bird Island, a small island 2.5 km off of the northeast coast of Antigua. The island is extremely small at only 8.4 hectares. It prefers to live in shady woodlands with dense undergrowth, although it is also found on sandy beaches and rocky outcrops.

Antiguan racer habitat map

Biome

Antiguan racer habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

The Antiguan racer is harmless to humans and has a gentle temperament. It is diurnal, being active from dawn to dusk. At night, it rests in a hidden shelter. The Antiguan racer appears to have poor resistance to common snake mites, which are not naturally found in Antigua, which has ended some attempts at captive breeding.

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The racer primarily eats a diet of lizards, including the local Antiguan ground lizard. While the species sometimes hunts for its food, it is typically an ambush predator, waiting for prey with most of its body buried beneath leaves.

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Lifestyle

References

1. Antiguan racer Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiguan_racer
2. Antiguan racer on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/939/71739009

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