2007 Wildlife Facts - Puerto Rican Racer

Photo of the Puerto Rican Racer, Culebra Corredora

Puerto Rican Racer (Eng.), Culebra Corredora (Sp.), Alsophis portoricensis (Sci.), native, Puerto Rico.

Photo Puerto Rico's Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Class-Reptilia, Order-Squamata, Family-Colubridae, Genus-Alsophis, Species-A. portoricensis. The Puerto Rican Racer is the second largest Puerto Rican snake, and its venomous bite is mildly poisonous.

Description

Alsophis portoricensis is easily recognized by its size and coloration. It measures approximately 3 feet (0.9 meters) in snout to vent length. It is brown above with each scale being edged with a darker brown, or sometimes white on the rearmost portions. There are no markings on the head and the throat is either unmarked or marked with dark blotches. Below, scales are pale, with dark brown rear edges.

Habits

The Puerto Rican Racer is a diurnal (active during the daytime) and terrestrial (ground dwelling) snake, although it can often be found in trees, an active hunter, once its prey is captured it is immobilized with a toxic salivary secretion of the snake’s Duvernoy gland. It chews the prey several times to allow its enlarged back teeth to become effective. Its diet consists primarily of small lizards (anoles) and frogs (coquis). Females lay up to eleven elongated eggs between March and May.

Note: this snake is quite aggressive and will not hesitate to bite when cornered, rising up on the lower part of its body and expanding its neck skin into a “hood” in cobra fashion. When the teeth penetrate the skin and the saliva passes into the blood, it may cause swelling, soreness and discoloration of the bitten area.

Habitat

Alsophis portoricensis occurs throughout the main island of Puerto Rico from coastal plain to forested middle elevations.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

This snake can occasionally be sighted in grassy areas in the Tabonuco forest area beside the El Portal and Big Tree Nature trails.

Additional Information

Biologist
USDA Forest Service
El Yunque National Forest
HC-01 Box 13490
Rio Grande, PR 00745
787 888 1810

List of Mamals by Month

January: Grass Coqui February: Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat March: Black-Whiskered Vireo
Photo/Link of the Grass Coqui, Coqui de las Yerbas
Photo/Link of the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat, Murcielago de Cola Libre
Photo/Link of the Black-whiskered Vireo, Julian Chivi
April: Barred Anole May: Web-Footed Coqui June: Velvety Free-Tailed Bat
Photo/Link of the Barred Anole, Lagartijo Manchado
Photo/Link of the Web-footed Coqui, Coqui Palmeado
Photo/Link of the Velvety Free-tailed Bat, Murcielago Casero
July: Scaly-Naped Pigeon August: Bananaquit September: Pygmy Anole
Photo/Link of the Scaly-naped Pigeon, Paloma Turca
Photo/Link of the Bananaquit, Reinita Comun
Photo/Linkof the Pygmy Anole, Lagartijo Pigmeo
October: Ruddy Quail-Dove November: Antillean Coqui December: Puerto Rican Racer
Photo/Link of the Ruddy Quail Dove, Perdiz Pequena
Photo/Link of the Antillean Coqui, Coqui Churi
Photo/Link of the Puerto Rican Racer, Culebra Corredora