Lizards have it tough!

Last week Craig sent me a few photos of a Curly-tailed lizard in the jaws of a Bahamian racer (Cubophis vudii).  While we often imagine Curly-tails as predators, they are certainly not at the top of the food chain here. Bahamian racers, boas, and red-tailed hawks (see previous post) undoubtedly consume many Curly-tailed lizards.

I don’t really know too much about these snakes. However, I’ve seen quite a few on Abaco over the years. They seem fairly abundant in just about all habitats, including mangroves. While boas can be relatively common in some places around Little Harbor and Marsh Harbour, the racer is by far the more commonly encountered snake. They are diurnal, fast-moving, active predators of lizards and frogs. I see them pretty frequently on roads – both alive and dead. Their range includes most of the Bahamas including both Great and Little Bahama Banks.

Another Bahamian racer from Little Harbour. Note the variation in color between the two specimens.

Another Bahamian racer from Little Harbour. Note the variation in color between the two specimens.

There aren’t a lot of distinguishing marks on the racer. But as you can see in these photos, they are usually some mix of coppery brown and black. Some individuals, like the one with a lizard in its mouth, display a reddish-colored head as well.

These are innocuous snakes that never attempt to bite when grabbed. Rather, they try to get away and evacuate their musk glands. Presumably the horrid smell puts would-be predators off their appetite. If cornered they will also flatten their heads and necks creating a small, but very cobra-like hood (there are no dangerous snakes in The Bahamas!). I suppose the hood is an attempt to look larger, but I’ve always wondered why they would mimic a species (cobra) that lives thousands of miles away (Africa and Asia)…

Anyways, it’s a cool snake and I’d love to know more about them!




By | 2017-12-01T14:02:13-05:00 June 12th, 2015|Categories: herpetology, Lizards|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sean Giery
I am an evolutionary ecologist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. My research investigates how basic ecological interactions control fundamental biological processes such as sexual selection, communication, and predation.

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