I really love the look of these red tailed green racers – Gonyosoma oxycephalum.
Previous specimens have had bright blue eyes. This one had green eyes and it was really beautiful because it looked as if the eyeball and the green of the eye – continued the dark stripe on the side of the head.
These are rat snakes, and yet their primary food is birds. Recently I saw two of these large snakes mating in a palm tree. The female can get quite large – over 2 meters. The male, a bit smaller – but still – 2 meters. These snakes were oblivious to people… and is not the same snake in the photograph here. This other one was caught in a tree near some homes by a beach in southern Thailand… it is 1+ meters and was quite calm, this being only the second day it was being handled by people.
The girl holding the snake is from Norway and she’s really not afraid of snakes at all – the non-venomous snakes Thailand has anyway.
I got a different camera, so was trying it out today a bit. More photos to come – if it ever stops raining.
Red Tailed Racers (rat snake) are one of my favorite snakes for the coloring, and the attitude. When they are aggravated at you they will flare up vertically the front 1/3 of their body and increase their thickness by double – or more. They look very big and apparently it helps to frighten away predators.
This is a brand new snake – just freshly caught from the wild, at a park nearby – with a waterfall. It’s getting into the hot season, so the snakes are hanging out near water during this time of the year.
These snakes are usually pretty calm when handheld, if they haven’t been played with aggressively much prior to you getting to handle them. It is tempting to tease them a bit and make them flare up because they are so beautiful when they are showing the defense response. I’ve seen it enough that I can just let this one be cool. He got so cool he climbed on my head.
These snakes can give a wicked bite. If you use Google images (images.google.com) to search for Gonyosoma oxychaphalum, you’ll see some bloodied hands. These snakes have big mouths (they eat rats), and they have decent sized teeth that can sink right into you. I know guys that have been bitten on the arm before. I’m pretty cautious with this snake, but I didn’t put too much in front of his face to get him upset about. They bite quickly and hold on pretty well too!
A nice Thailand snake experience today. Hope you’re getting your share too…
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.
Species: G. oxycephalum
Binomial name: Gonyosoma oxycephalum
Video: Red Tailed Racer Eaten by King Cobra:
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