Red Tailed Racer – Non-Venomous – Not Dangerous

Red Tailed Racer Snake, Thailand
Red Tailed Racer - Non-Venomous - Not Dangerous

These Red Tailed Racers are beautiful green snakes with a grey or reddish tail. They are non-venomous but big enough to give you a strong bite. These snakes live for about 15 years on average – if they don’t encounter a predator like the King cobra.

Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Red Tailed Racer)
Discovered by Boie in 1827

Thai: (ngoo kee-ow kub maak)

Length: Max length about 2.5m (7.5+ feet) They are thick like your wrist and very strong, muscled snakes.

Range: All over Thailand.

Habitat:Red Tailed Racers prefer lowland and up to about 750m above sea level in jungle, agricultural (farmed) land, mangrove forests. They spend most of their time in trees and bushes.

Notes: These are common tree snakes that are also found in caves. They have beautiful greens, with white and black mixed in to their main body color. Their belly scales are rough and ideal for climbing trees. Their top scales are smooth. Identified easily by the dark streak across the eyes, and, if you’re close enough – the blue tongue that flickers in and out when aggravated. The tail is not always or even usually red… the ones I’ve seen are grey. They don’t always do well in captivity and can strike at anytime, though usually much more when aggravated first.

Active Time? Daytime.

Food: Rats, mice, birds, bats and lizards.

Natural Enemies: King cobras love to eat Red Tailed Racer snakes!

Defensive Behavior: They flare up their body vertically – not horizontally like the cobras. They puff themselves up vertically and turn this part sideways to you so they can strike fear into you. They do bite when pestered. They can strike from nearly any position, head facing away from you too. Be careful they have strong jaws.

Venom Toxicity: No venom dangerous to humans.

Offspring: Red tailed racers reach sexually maturity at 4 years. Between September and January this snake deposits small clutches of 3-8 eggs that hatch 45cm long baby red tailed racer snakes in 91 to 112 days.

Red Tailed Racer Snake, Non-Venomous, Thailand
We put this snake on the ground to get a full-body shot, usually it would not be on the ground - they much prefer the trees and bushes.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Gonyosoma
Species: G. oxycephalum

Binomial name: Gonyosoma oxycephalum

Video: Red Tailed Racer Eaten by King Cobra:

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping trips to find cobras, kraits, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. Thailand has over 200 snake species with many of them venomous.

3 thoughts on “Red Tailed Racer – Non-Venomous – Not Dangerous”

    1. Good question. I’ve not seen that and not heard of it, however, kraits eat other snakes as you probably know so I wouldn’t put them in the same cage together. Cheers, Vern

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