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Cave fauna 3 - racers

CAVE RACER

The cave racer inhabits limestone caves all over Asia and there are at least 10 species of Orthriophis taeniurus ranging from China, down through the Asian mainland to Malaysia and Borneo. The racer used to be classed as Elaphe taeniura. It is often called the Beauty Snake in the pet trade. I am trying to do research on the snake as it has not been studied much and is an area that needs a lot of work.

The cave racer catches its prey as it flies by. Racers have been observed to hang over ledges and catch bats flying by. In Oct 2016 National Geographic published a 2 minute video of yellow-red rat snakes (Pseudelaphe flavirufa) catching bats in a cave near the town of Kantemó in southern Mexico‚Äôs Yucatan Peninsula. See the article and video here.

These photos show a selection of cave racers. The first 4 photos show a racer eating a bat. Racers kill by constriction, not poison. Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not dislocate their jaws to swallow their prey. Their jaws are loosely connected so this allows them to swallow whole animals.


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Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, formerly known as Elaphe taeniura


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shed skin


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young racer


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scar on back


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eating a bat


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racer in Mulu, should be Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi, but this one has a less patterned marking


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racer in Mulu, Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi


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racer in Mulu

and some food for the cave racer........


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Mulu bat flight


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Mulu bat flight

I was lucky enough to see 3 cave racers mating. At least 2 were waiting and 1 was waiting its turn!


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racers mating.....


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I found a dead cave racer in Gua Kanthan, Perak, in 2001; and in Gua Jinjang Pelamin, Merapoh, Pahang in 2013, and collected the teeth :


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racer teeth


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© Liz Price 2008-2016

Page last updated Oct 2016


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