The Western Yellow-Bellied Racer, a swift and elegant snake, is a captivating presence in the diverse ecosystems of the western United States. Known for its remarkable speed and striking yellow belly, this snake is an intriguing and important part of its natural habitat.
What is a Western Yellow-Bellied Racer
Western Yellow-Bellied Racer Overview
The Western Yellow-Bellied Racer is a subspecies of the Eastern Racer snake that lives in about 7 states located on the, you guessed it, western side of the United States. This long and slender snake can be found in deserts, forests, open fields, and even in some marshes and lakes. Even though the snake lives predominantly in the United States, you can find this snake in southern parts of British Columbia, Canada.
While they may have racer in their name, the Western Yellow-Bellied Racer isn’t the fastest of snakes moving at around 4 mph on average. The fastest species of racer snake belongs to the Southern Black Racer, typically found in Florida, which can move up to 10 mph.
The Western Yellow-Bellied Racer, or any racer for that matter, is a non-venomous snake so the only thing you have to worry about if you get bitten by one is the bleeding and treating it for infection.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Squamata
- Suborder: Serpentes
- Family: Colubridae
- Genus: Coluber
- Species: C. constrictor
- Subspecies: C. c. mormon
Size and Body Description
While not necessarily thick or bulky, the Western Yellow-Bellied Racer is still a long snake compared to some, albeit a thin or slender one. Adult snakes are typically a plain light brown, grey, or shades of green ranging from drab to normal green. Their underbellies are yellowish or greyish-white.
Juvenile Western Yellow-Bellied Racers look drastically different than their adult counterparts to the extent that they were thought to be a different snake entirely. Juvenile snakes will have dark patches or spots running down the length of their body while maintaining a solid color underneath the patches
As stated before, the Western Yellow-Bellied Racer is a slender but long snake growing anywhere from 20 all the way to 75 inches in length.
Western Yellow-Bellied Racers have a typical snake diet in that they like to eat small reptiles, amphibians, and rodents. As they get older and bigger, the snake is able to eat larger prey like birds, rabbits, snakes, and eggs.
Their ability to eat larger game comes down to how big the snake gets due to the fact that they are a constricting species of snake. The larger they get, the bigger squeeze they can produce.
The Western Yellow-Bellied Racer reproduces in the middle of summer and will lay its eggs late summer to early September. Females will lay their eggs in old logs, burrows, or a nest made from ground debris.
As the name would suggest, the Wester Yellow-Bellied Racer can be found in the western states of California, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Montana and Colorado. The snake has also ventured up north to our Canadian neighbors living in the southern parts of British Columbia.
While not endangered, their populations can be affected by habitat destruction, pollution, and human disturbance. Conservation efforts focus on preserving natural habitats and understanding the ecological role of these snakes.