Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Little is known of the biology of the Leeward Island racer. It is diurnal, hunting for small lizards, frogs and turtles during the day and lying in the sun. It is more active in the rainy season and rarely seen during the dry season (2).
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Description

This medium-sized snake has a pointed head and pale to chocolate brown skin, fading to pale yellowish-pink or brown on the underside. Some have black markings across the body and a darker brown stripe can be seen running from the nostrils through the eyes to the neck. Juveniles have a particularly pointed tail and a dark V-shape on the head (2).
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Distribution

Continent: Caribbean
Distribution: Anguilla, St. Martin (= St. Maarten), St. Barthelemy, Guadeloupe, Netherlands Antilles  
Type locality: St.-Martin and Anguilla.
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Range

Found in low numbers on St Martin and St Bartholomew Islands in the Lesser Antilles, and on Anguilla (1) (4).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Inhabits humid rocky crevices and cracks in walls and may also be found in piles of leaves and occasionally in trees. It is rarely seen in open spaces (2).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2ce

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Day, M.

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
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Status

The Leeward Island racer is classified as Endangered (EN A2ce, B1 + 2ce) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and is listed on Appendix III of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (3).
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Threats

The Leeward Island racer population is declining and has become extinct in some areas. This is due to a combination of predation by introduced rats, cats and mongooses, the burning of vegetation for agriculture and persecution by man (2).
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Management

Conservation

One of the rarest snakes of the Lesser Antilles, the Leeward Island racer will only survive if introduced predators are exterminated from its range (2).
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Wikipedia

Leeward island racer

The Leeward Island Racer (Alsophis rijgersmaei) is a species of snake in the Colubridae family. It is found in Anguilla, Saint Barthélemy, and probably extinct on sint Marteen. The Grass snake Alsophis rijersmai is the only snake in St. Maarten. I was thought to have been eradicated by the Mongoose (Westerman, 1955; Sajdak and Henderson, 1991 in Powell et al., 1992). However, in 1992 there was a report of 5 specimens that were captured at Mary's Fancy, and in the same year one was observed in the field (Powell et al., 1992). A snake was also seen after the hurricane in January 1996 during a field trip at Flagstaf (Ecovision/AIDEnvironment, 1996). Snakes of the genus Alsophis and Liophis prove to be more sensitive to introduced predators than other genera (Henderson, 1992). A. rijersmai is not rare in Mongoose-free Anguilla and St. Barths, and other species of the same genus are common in other Mongoose-free islands of the Lesser Antilles (even extremely abundant in some areas of Saba, Dominica and St. Eustatius), even though dogs and cats have probably been living on these islands for hundreds of years already. This snake is not venomous. It lives on insects, small amphibians, reptiles and warm-blooded animals. For its survival it is important to control the Mongoose, and convince people not to kill snakes. The animal's habitat should also be protected.

Sources[edit]

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