The Galápagos racer (Pseudalsophis biserialis or Philodryas biserialis) is a colubrid snake in the genus Pseudalsophis that is endemic to the Galápagos Islands. It is a mildly venomous constrictor and is considered not aggressive and harmless to humans. The two subspecies are the eastern and western racers, the latter being larger, longer, and darker than the former. The western subspecies specializes in hunting fish, while both subspecies eat small reptiles, eggs, rodents, and bird hatchlings. The Galapagos racer is near threatened due to recently introduced species that feed on snake eggs, including pigs, rats, mice, and cats. It is one of only three species of snakes on the Galápagos Islands, and it was first described in 1860. In November 2016, a video clip from the BBC series Planet Earth II showing a group of Galápagos racers hunting marine iguana hatchlings became a viral trend.
Taxonomy and etymology
Originally classified as Herpetodryas biserialis by Albert Günther in 1860, this species has been renamed numerous times since then. The generic names have included Dromicus, Orpheomorphus, and Oraphis.
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- George R. Zug (28 June 2013). Reptiles and Amphibians of the Pacific Islands: A Comprehensive Guide. Univ of California Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-520-27495-2.
- Julian Fitter; Daniel Fitter; David Hosking (5 January 2016). Wildlife of the Galápagos: Second Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-691-17042-8.
- Van Denburgh, John (1912). The Snakes of the Galapagos Islands. California Academy of Science. pp. 325–327.