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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Copperhead Racer

Species : Coelognathus radiatus
Maximum Size : 230 cm

The bold black markings on the head of this large snake immediately identify it as Coelognathus radiatus. Also known as Radiated Rat Snake or Copper-headed Trinket Snake, this racer occurs in a range of lowland and hill habitats including forest and agricultural areas.

It is exclusively diurnal and mainly terrestrial in habits, but sometimes arboreal. Its diet comprises rodents and other small vertebrates.

This snake can exhibit thanatosis, or death-feigning, when under extreme stress from an external threat. It does this by rolling over, exposing its venter and relaxing most of its muscles.
Its body is relatively slender, greyish-brown in colour, with four dark stripes running along the body; the lower two stripes are narrower and sometimes intermittent. The copper-coloured head bears three radiating stripes extending below and behind the eye, and a dark band across the nape. The ventrum and underside of the head is pale.

This widespread racer occurs in parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh), southern China,
southern Myanmar, southern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo. In Singapore this species is listed as 'indeterminate', with no recent records.

Fig 1 : This example was observed stalking a small rodent at the edge of a rural road.

Fig 2 : Most encounters with this species are of a fast-moving snake dashing across rural roads and paths.

Fig 3 : Another example, searching for prey in an area of maintained grassland.

All photos from Kaeng Krachan district, Phetchaburi province, Thailand by Charles Currin.

References : H1, H12

Nadolski, B., Trivedi, K., Ashaharraza, K., & Suwanwaree, P. (2020). Defensive behaviors of Copper-headed Trinket Snakes, Coelognathus radiatus (Boie 1827)(Squamata: Colubridae), from the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve, Thailand. Reptiles & Amphibians, 26(3), 243-244.


Fig 1
ゥ  Charles Currin

Fig 2
ゥ  Charles Currin
Fig 3
ゥ  Charles Currin