Saturday, September 26, 2015

Red Racer!

The geckos weren't the only ones to have their habitat disrupted by our clean-up. We found this gorgeous snake - a Red Racer - about a half hour after we thought we had finished in that corner of our yard.

Red Racer had only come out partially from under the storage box, but we could see he was a good size snake. About 2 feet of the body was visible, and it did not show any signs of tapering down to its tail.

He stopped with his head raised and occasionally tasted the air with his tongue, probably trying to figure out what had happened to his home.

Red Racers get their common name from their beautiful coloration, and their ability to move very rapidly. They can grow to be very large - to 6 feet in length or more.

Individual snakes can vary greatly in appearance and their coloring may be shades of pink and red, light brown or tan. They have large eyes and most have darker patterns on the head.

Red Racer is a diurnal snake, which means it is out and about during the day. It is an active hunter, eating whatever it can overcome and crush with its jaws. This may include lizards and other snakes, birds and road kill. It can climb into bushes and trees so nestling birds and bird eggs can also be part of the diet.

Although Red Racer is not poisonous, it will defend itself by striking or biting if threatened or handled.

We didn't want to scare him so we stepped away. He came out a bit further from under the storage box, and moved towards the pool control box on the wall where two of the geckos had hidden themselves earlier. Red Racer started to crawl upwards along the wall, then made a fast lunge towards the box. One of the geckos zipped out from behind, dashed across the block wall, and disappeared behind the bamboo fencing a few feet away.

We figured our Red Racer had had a challenging enough day so far, so we left him in peace while we figured out how to reconstruct his habitat.

This is a new snake species for our yard, and brings our yard list snake species total to 5: Red Racer, Desert Blind Snake, Shovel Nose Snake, Black-headed Snake, and Gopher Snake. It is amazing that our yard can support a snake this size, and even more surprising that it has obviously been living here for a while.

We will be rethinking our plans for this corner of the yard, to make sure he has a safe place to live.

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