Speckled racers?

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DracoRJC
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Speckled racers?

Post by DracoRJC » July 26th, 2013, 2:32 pm

Hey all,
I was hoping to hear and any and all input anyone may have regarding these incredible snakes - I can't seem to find too much about them outside of Werler and Dixon. How are their populations doing? Is there geographic variation? Are there any studies regarding them? What are they most closely related to? Of course pics are always welcome!

Thanks,
Ryan

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chrish
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by chrish » July 27th, 2013, 9:06 pm

Drymobius are a common and widespread tropical racer that just happens to get up into the southernmost counties of Texas. They are pretty conspicuous denizens of dry forest areas in particular south of the border and because they are diurnal and brightly colored they are often seen. They are "racers", of course, and not easily caught in the dry forests they like. They get hit by cars a lot as well and are a common roadkill in some areas. I have seen them a number of places particularly on the forested grounds of some of the Yucatan Mayan ruins. I've even seen a couple of dead-on-path bicycle kills at some of the Yucatan ruins.

In Texas, they are probably easiest to see at the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary, but this spot is strictly hands off. You don't have to flip for them (and can't in the sanctuary), you just wander around the palm forest and once in a while you see them in my experience. They occur other places in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but most of those areas are private and non-accessible.

They are much more beautiful in person than in photos, IMHO. I remember the first one I saw in the wild. Prior to that moment I had only seen the photo in the Peterson Guide since that was the only real photo that was widely available. I was stunned at how beautiful it was and remember thinking that I must have seen an exceptional individual because it was so much better looking than Isabelle Hunt Conant's photo showed.

And while Drymobius are pretty snakes when they are standing still, when they are moving quickly the change in their appearance is startling. The yellow/green/black pattern seems to flow together and when you see them crawling quickly in long grass they look almost electric blue. It is a very strange illusion.

Cool snakes. Certainly underappreciated by herpers, IMHO.
Here's one from Sabal Palm -

Image

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DracoRJC
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by DracoRJC » July 27th, 2013, 9:18 pm

Thanks for the reply Chris - 2 more questions though. How difficult are they to photograph when you can't touch them, and how is their track record in captivity?

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The Real Snake Man
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by The Real Snake Man » July 27th, 2013, 9:22 pm

As far as I understand, they don't do well in captivity (but I can't remember where I heard that). My dad and I went looking for some just today, and we failed to find any. The last time we went, a couple weeks ago, I found one that disappeared two seconds after I spotted it. On about three other trips, I have only seen (and photographed) one. They're not always easy to locate, and when you find them, good luck on the photography. I would love to get a new in situ shot of one.

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JakeScott
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by JakeScott » July 28th, 2013, 10:10 am

On a trip a few years ago we managed to see 4 in one day. I really don't think they are that uncommon, just a small distribution in S. Tex. One of my favorite snakes, no doubt.

This photo was actually one that we managed to see, in-situ, on an unseasonably cold morning (lower 50's). It was soaking up the first rays of light on some fallen palm fronds at the edge of a small paved path.
Image

-Jake

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justinm
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by justinm » July 28th, 2013, 4:13 pm

Thanks for posting pictures guys these are great looking snakes, I hope to make it down that way and see some.

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chrish
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by chrish » July 29th, 2013, 7:55 pm

DracoRJC wrote:Thanks for the reply Chris - 2 more questions though. How difficult are they to photograph when you can't touch them?
On several occasions that I have seen them in the valley, I have found if you walk slowly and carefully and find them out cralwing or basking, you can slowly approach them and get a photo with a long enough lens. If you chase them or walk quickly through their habitat, you won't see them.

You can find them under stuff sometimes off of the reserves and refuges, but then you are on private land and probably trespassing.

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M Wolverton
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by M Wolverton » July 29th, 2013, 9:28 pm

I found a road pizza one in Costa Rica once. It was easy to approach and would have been easy to photograph, had I been inclined.

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Jon Wedow
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by Jon Wedow » July 30th, 2013, 5:37 am

Yes these are beautiful and underappreciated snakes. Here is one from Panama that looks a lot different. They do seem to be common on the Pacific side down there since it is mostly dry forest remnants and pasture. I have also seen them up to around 600m in what I would call wet montane forest. The first one I saw got away, I didn't expect it to be so fast.

Image

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JakeScott
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Re: Speckled racers?

Post by JakeScott » July 31st, 2013, 3:35 pm

That's still a beaut, Jon. And a great shot, to boot. I always thought it interesting how they're color transition noticeably as you go southward.

-Jake

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