Friday, July 2, 2010


The other day when we came home from birding with some friends, we found a serpent curled amongst the pillows of the loveseat on our front terrace. The beautiful creature was glossy black above and orange below, about 4.5 to 5 feet in length. It did not appreciate being disturbed from the comfy lair, and hurried around the side of the house, where it raised about 2/3 of its body up (like a cobra), appearing as though it wanted to get up into a planter box that is about 5 feet off the ground. Marco stepped toward it to get a better shot, it lunged at him, then raced across the lawn toward the cover of a flower bed, and thence down the hill toward the creek. A couple of hours later, it returned, cruised along the side yard, exploring here & there, checking beneath storage shelves at the back of the house, and eventually headed into the vacant lot next to us.

We have no field guides for herps of the region, although a nearby neighbor loaned us his (Reptiles of Central America by Gunther Kohler), and we think it is a Salmon-bellied Racer (Dryadophis melanolomus). The range map does not match, but we suspect a lot remains to be discovered in Panama.

Marco got some excellent video of it:

UPDATE: Marco sent a query to the author, Gunther Kohler, who replied that the scientific name has changed to Mastigodryas melanolomus. It is a Salmon-bellied Racer.


  1. Blood-curdling. There's a point about 50 sec. in where he turns to slither towards the camera where, if I had been the videographer, I would have simultaneously screamed, dropped the camera, and skedaddled.

  2. Thinking further about about the close-in action, I want to whisper a tech note in your ear: "3D TV is in the stores...."