Wednesday, August 1, 2012

St. Lucia Racer

Liophis ornatus
Yesterday we talked about about a snake that is Critically Endangered, and considered "the rarest snake in the world". Today we'll learn about a snake that might be able to vie for that title-- it was considered extinct for nearly 75 years before being recently rediscovered.

The St. Lucia Racer, another snake endemic to a Caribbean Island, was actually declared extinct back in 1936. Its decline was also due to the introduction of Rats and Mongooses to the island. There was a potential sighting in the 1970s, but everyone throught that the small island snakes were gone. Only a few weeks ago (early July, 2012), news stories began to report that the Racer had been found again on a small, 30 acre island. There are at least 11 individuals on the site, though there may be more.

All of the newly rediscovered snakes were micro-chipped and re-released. There is most assuredly inbreeding within the population, but the full extent of their lack of genetic diversity wot be known for a few more months.

Like the Antiguan Racer we learned about yesterday, the St. Lucia Racer is a small snake. It measures less than 1m in length. It is also said to be very docile with humans, and it eats small frogs and lizards.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : St. Lucia
Size : Length around 1m
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Squamata
Family : Colubridae -- Genus : Liophis -- Species : L. ornatus

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