The western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon), a subspecies of the North American racer, is a New World snake that is endemic to the western states of the United States. They are a related species of the eastern yellow-bellied racer. Yellow-bellied racers were considered to be abundant even 30 years ago when scientists surveyed certain parts of its range. However, at present, the subspecies are vulnerable to human activities, just like the eastern yellow-bellied racer.
The range of the western yellow-bellied racer species crosses the range of humans since they share the same habitat. Their habitats are threatened at present due to modification and are vulnerable to natural causes. The number of snakes is also assumed to have declined from their historical level from their habitats. Once found abundantly in the south of British Columbia, the species has become uncommon there at present. To know more facts about these snakes, keep on reading these amazing facts.
A western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) is a type of snake of the Colubridae family.
The western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) of Squamata order belongs to the class Reptilia, the common class for all reptiles.
Currently, the global population of the western yellow-bellied racer has not been quantified. Since the racers are fast-moving camouflaged snakes, they are difficult to locate in the wild. There is very little information regarding their population size. Five major subpopulations of western yellow-bellied racers have been spotted in the arid river valley regions of the western US. All these subpopulations are affected adversely by some continued threats like habitat loss, fragmentation, and road mortality.
The western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) is a subspecies of the North American racer, and consequently, the species is distributed in North America. The range of the racers extends from southern Canada to Guatemala in Central America. The yellow-bellied racers occur almost throughout the United States, while the western subspecies are only restricted to the western states and southern Canada. They are found in states like California, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, southern British Columbia (Canada), and Utah.
The western yellow-bellied racer species are found in arid and hot open habitats like grassland, savanna, open field, and woodland. They forage in wetter and damper areas like riparian valleys, marshes, and lake edges.
The adult and newborn young snake together take shelter in a closed area in the winter. They search for dens facing the south on river valleys. A racer shelters in rocky crevices or burrows created by any other mammals, reptiles, or amphibians residing in that place. The females lay eggs under rocks, on rotten stumps, and loose sand so that the young ones get enough moisture.
The western yellow-bellied racers are sometimes found living communally with other species of snakes, while sometimes a single snake is located in a den. The adult females share their laying site with many other snakes of different species.
The eastern yellow-bellied racer has a shorter lifespan than its subspecies, the western yellow-bellied racers. The latter species can live for approximately 20 years. In comparison, the eastern ones can live for seven to eight years.
In regards to their reproduction, the western yellow-bellied racers have a very short breeding season that starts in June and ends by early July. The females start to look for a suitable nest after they emerge from winter hibernation to lay eggs after mating like old burrows or cavities in the sand. The females lay up to 3-12 eggs in a single clutch, and the eggs hatch after approximately two to three months.
The young snakes come out of the eggs around August and September, and they immediately start to look for a den for winter hibernation. There is no incubation; the sun and the sand keep the juvenile young snakes warm inside the eggs. The animals reach sexual maturity at two to three years of age.
The western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor mormon) is not listed in the Red List published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, the eastern yellow-bellied racers, along with their subspecies, the western yellow-bellied, are listed in the Species at Risk Act. Since their numbers have drastically declined from British Columbia, unnecessarily killing and unauthorized possession of a racer species is prohibited there under the Wildlife Act.
The snakes are also given the status Vulnerable in Canada. In the rest of the provinces, they are recognized as a secure species as of now, however, it is extremely difficult to locate and calculate the accurate population of racers. Since they share their range with humans, agricultural and urban development in their natural habitat has decreased the western yellow-bellied racer population from places like Canada, New Mexico, and south of British Columbia. Both the adult and the juvenile snakes fall prey to road activity or misinformed killing.
The western yellow-bellied racer is a long and slender species of North American snake with a blue-gray body, like many other racer snakes. The juvenile racers look different from the adults. The color of the smooth scales on the slender body of the adult snake varies between blue-gray, blue-green, and brown. The underparts ranging from its belly to chin are creamy yellow in color. The young snakes tend to be light brown in color.
The western yellow-bellied racer is dull-colored, so they might not be that cute.
An adult western yellow-bellied racer can grow up to 6.5 ft (2 m). They are longer than the black racer snake.
A racer snake usually moves at a speed of 4 mph (6.4 kph).
The weight of the juvenile western yellow-bellied is 0.2 oz (5 g). The weight of an adult is unknown.
The male and the female species do not have any specific names; both are called western yellow-bellied racers.
A juvenile snake is referred to as a neonate.
The diet of western yellow-bellied racers is primarily based on amphibians and reptiles. The snake feeds on insects, rodents, frogs, and other snake species.
The western yellow-bellied racer does not contain any venom.
No, they do not make good pets.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Western yellow-bellied racers are believed to be a subspecies of the eastern yellow-bellied snakes.
Hawks and other birds of prey often eat baby western yellow-bellied racers.
Racer snakes have a range of colors from black, gray, brown, to greenish-blue and blue. Some even have yellow bellies, as their name suggests.
There are another racer species found in Canada called the eastern yellow-bellied racers. The adult snakes of this species have slender gray bodies with yellow bellies.
The western yellow-bellied racer is one such racer species that are found in North America. They are endemic to the western parts of the United States and southern Canada. Some of the states where these racers are common are California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our common garter snake facts or Great Basin rattlesnake facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable buttermilk racer snake coloring pages.
Main image by Gabrielle Merk.
Second image by Jrtayloriv.