Speckled Racer

The speckled racer is a predominantly diurnal colubrid native to the Americas. The specific name margaritiferus, which means ‘pearl-bearing’ in Latin, refers to the pearl-like spots on the dorsal scales of the snake. As the ‘racer’ in its name implies, it is a fast and agile snake.

Scientific Classifications

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild




This snake has four recognized subspecies.

  • Northern speckled racer (Drymobius margaritiferus margaritiferus)
  • Central American speckled racer (Drymobius margaritiferus fistulosus)
  • Western speckled racer (Drymobius margaritiferus occidentalis)
  • Drymobius margaritiferus maydis



The average length is 30-40 in (76-102 cm), with the record being 50 in (127 cm).

Speckled Racer Snake

Color and Appearance

The racer’s color is typically black with distinct yellow and blue spotting – one light-colored spot on each scale, giving the colubrid an overall greenish shade. The yellow labials have black sutures. The ventral side is typically yellow to green.

The dorsal scales are feebly keeled mid-dorsally but smooth at the periphery. They are arranged in 17 rows. There are 142-168 ventrals and 85-126 subcaudals.

Are They Dangerous to Humans 

The nervous species doesn’t hesitate to bite in self-defense when handled or restrained. But it is non-venomous. Death feigning is also a defense tactic exhibited by around 30% of the species.

Speckled Racers at a Glance


It can be found throughout Central America from the Yucatán Peninsula and Isthmus of Tehuantepec northward to the lower exterior slopes of the Sierra Madres of Mexico and the coastal lowlands, up the east coast to northern Tamaulipas and the west coast to Sonora. The northern limit of its range extends into extreme south Texas, USA, where the species becomes uncommon to rare in a few of the southernmost counties. Southward the snake ranges to Panama and neighboring areas of northwest Colombia, at elevations from sea level to 4,750 feet (1,453 m).

Speckled Racer Image


The snake lives in a wide range of habitats, including forests, forest clearings and edges, riparian zones, secondary growth, marshlands, pastures, savannahs, and roadsides. The speckled racer prefers wet and humid areas with permanent water sources. But it has been found in areas with no sources of water, and its habitat includes tropical arid and dry forests.


It lives for around 5 years in the wild and 10 years in captivity.


The speckled racer has numerous predators, including birds of prey, coyotes, foxes, and other giant snakes.

Drymobius margaritiferus


A wide variety of prey, including lizards, small mammals, and reptile eggs, form its diet but it mainly eats toads and frogs.  


Oviparous (lays eggs that hatch outside the body)

The speckled racer typically lays eggs in spring. However, eggs are deposited in southern areas as early as February and March. 2-8 eggs of 1.5 in (3.8 cm) length form a clutch. The incubation period is typically 8-9 weeks, with the hatchlings measuring 6-10.5 in (15.2-27.6 cm).



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