This snake was once common in Antigua, but by the twentieth century it had completely disappeared from the island and was thought to be extinct, mainly as a result of the introduction of two species (4). Black and brown rats (Rattus rattus
and Rattus norvegicus
) were accidentally brought to the West Indies on foreign ships from Europe, wreaking havoc on endemic wildlife including the Antiguan racer whose eggs and young were preyed upon (4). Then in the late 19th Century the Asian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus
) was introduced in an effort to control rat populations in sugar cane plantations. These quickly established themselves and systematically drove many species of terrestrial reptiles and ground-nesting birds to extinction or near-extinction, amongst them the Antiguan racer (3). To make matters worse, many Antiguans and visiting tourists wrongly believed the racer to be dangerous, and snakes were often killed on sight (5).