Coluber lateralis euryxanthus - Alameda Striped Racer
Considered harmless to humans.
Adults are generally 3 - 4 feet long (91 - 122 cm) and ocassionally reach 5 ft. (152cm.) Hatchlings are about 13 inches long (33 cm.)
A fast-moving snake with a long thin body and tail, a broad elongated head, large eyes, a slender neck, and smooth scales. Dark brown to black with a wide solid orange stripe on each side extending from the back of the eye to or beyond the vent. The stripes are "broad, 1 and 2 half-scale rows wide."(Stebbins) The underside is cream tapering to orange or pink toward the tail.
Dirunal, often seen actively foraging in the daytime with head and forward part of the body held up off the ground searching for prey with its acute vision. Climbs vegetation and seeks shelter in burrows, rocks, or woody debris. Very fast-moving and alert, quickly fleeing when threatened, this snake is difficult to get close to. Like most Masticophis this snake will strike repeatedly and bite viciously when threatened or handled.
Eats lizards, small rodents, small birds, frogs, salamanders, small snakes. Juveniles will consume large insects.
Lays eggs in late spring or early summer which hatch in two to three months.
This subspecies, Coluber lateralis euryxanthus - Alameda Striped Racer, is endemic to California. It occurs only in a small area on the east side of the San Francisco Bay in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
The species Coluber lateralis - Striped Racer, is found only in California and Baja California, Mexico.
Open areas in canyons, rocky hillsides, chaparral scrublands, open woodlands, pond edges, stream courses.
North American snakes formerly placed in the genus Masticophis have been changed to the genus Coluber based on a 2004 paper * by Nagy et al. Utiger et al. (2005, Russian Journal of Herpetology 12:39-60) supported Nagy et al. and synonymized Masticophis with Coluber. This has not been universally accepted. The most recent SSAR list has hinted that the genus Masticophis might be re-instated: "Burbrink (pers. comm.) has data to reject Nagy et al.’s hypothesis but we await publication of these data before reconsidering the status of Masticophis."
Coluber lateralis is split into two subspecies -
C. l. euryxanthus - Alameda Striped Racer, and
C. l. lateralis - California Striped Racer.
Protected as a threatened species by the state of California and the Federal government due to its limited range and available habitat. Human development has fragmented this snake's originally continuous range into five populations. Aproximately 60 percent of this snake's habitat is owned by the public. In 1999 the status of this snake was listed as Declining.