Western Yellow-bellied Racer

Coluber constrictor mormon

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Status

Special Concern (Federal)
Blue List (Provincial)

Description

This slender snake has a long, smooth, tapered body and is usually less than 1 m in length. It has a rounded snout, and relatively large dark eyes with round pupils. Its has a long, pointed, whip-like tail. Its upperparts are uniformly blue-grey to brownish-olive colour, with a pale to bright yellow underside.
Baby racers have a pattern that very strongly resemble baby rattlesnakes, (this is a defense against predation) but the pattern fades quickly, starting at the tail and finishing at the head.
Racers of all ages are extremely fast moving when fleeing from predators.

Habitat

Rocky terrain
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Grassland
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Riparian areas
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April to October. Prefers dry grassland-shrub-steppe areas and rugged terrain. Often wanders into agricultural areas and along wetland edges to hunt. Eggs are laid under cover rocks, in stumps, in rotting plant matter, and under stable talus. Hibernates during the winter, often in the same den, usually within rock outcroppings, talus slopes, or under large rock piles with a southern exposure.

Yellow-bellied Racers can be found from Kamloops down through Merritt into the Okanagan and Simlkameen Valleys, as well as in a few discreet pockets near Trail, Grand Forks, and Midway.

Threats

-Habitat loss from agricultural and urban development
-Vehicle road mortality
-Mortality from agricultural machinery
-Human fear and dislike of snakes (although nonvenomous, this snake resembles venomous snakes from other countries)

You Can Help!

-Protect grassland-shrub-steppe and rugged terrain habitats
-Be mindful of snakes crossing roadways
-Check agricultural machinery before and during use
-Avoid disrupting dens and nesting sites
-Educate others on the importance of snakes to prevent needless persecution

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Photo: Valerie Blow
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