Coluber lateralis - (Hallowell, 1853)
Striped Racer
Other English Common Names: California Whipsnake, striped racer
Synonym(s): Masticophis lateralis (Hallowell, 1853)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Masticophis lateralis (Hallowell, 1853) (TSN 174239)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103313
Element Code: ARADB21030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae Coluber
Genus Size: A - Monotypic genus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Masticophis lateralis
Taxonomic Comments: See Grismer (1990) for information on the taxonomy of the C. lateralis complex in Baja California.

Crother et al. (in Crother 2008, 2012) cited published studies in transferring all Masticophis species to the genus Coluber, but they also stated that there is unpublished evidence that might reject this.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 05Dec2005
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct1996
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (05Dec2005)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNR)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: In 1994, USFWS proposed the listing of subspecies euryxanthus (populations in the hills east of S.F. Bay) as Endangered; in 1997, the subspecies was listed as Threatened (USFWS 1997).
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range extends from north-central California southward along the coast and the western slope of the Sierra Nevada through southwestern California to northwestern Baja California and as scattered records to near La Paz in southern Baja California (Jennings 1983, Grismer and Mahrdt 1996, Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003). Elevational range extends from near sea level to about 2,250 meters (7,400 feet) (Stebbins 2003).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by many occurrences or subpopulations (Jennings 1983).

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. This snake is locally common in suitable habitat.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: No major threats are known. Some local populations likely are declining as a result of habitat loss resulting from urbanization.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and populations size are relatively stable or declining at rate of less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from north-central California southward along the coast and the western slope of the Sierra Nevada through southwestern California to northwestern Baja California and as scattered records to near La Paz in southern Baja California (Jennings 1983, Grismer and Mahrdt 1996, Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003). Elevational range extends from near sea level to about 2,250 meters (7,400 feet) (Stebbins 2003).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Alameda (06001), Contra Costa (06013), San Joaquin (06077), Santa Clara (06085), Stanislaus (06099)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
18 Middle San Joaquin-Lower (18040002)+*, San Joaquin Delta (18040003)+, Suisun Bay (18050001)+, San Pablo Bay (18050002)+, San Francisco Bay (18050004)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: A slender-bodied, fast-moving snake with a narrow neck and relatively broad head with large eyes; dorsum dark brown with a yellowish or orange stripe on each side; ventral surface is plain cream colored, pink, and/or orange; adults generally are 90-124 cm in total length.
Reproduction Comments: Breeds in the spring. Lays a clutch of 6-11 eggs, May-July (Stebbins 1985). Eggs hatch August to October (Behler and King 1979).
Ecology Comments: In the S.F. Bay Area, home range was reported as 2-8.7 ha (Federal Register, 4 February 1994).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitats include chaparral foothills, shrublands with scattered grassy patches, rocky canyons and watercourses, oases in drier regions, mixed deciduous and pine woodlands in the mountains, and semidesert (in Baja California) (Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003). This snake retreats underground or under cover when inactive. It lays eggs probably most often in abandoned rodent burrows, perhaps also in other protected sites underground or under imbedded objects.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Preys on insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, small mammals, and birds; lizards are the most common prey. Uses both vision and olfaction to find prey; often detects lizard prey through visual detection of movement but also follows scent trails (Hammerson, pers. observ.).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Strictly diurnal; inactive in cold temperatures and extreme heat (but relatively thermophilic compared to most snakes) (Hammerson 1979).
Length: 152 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Medium And Large Colubrid Snakes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that snakes rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh (this barrier pertains only to upland species and does not apply to aquatic or wetland snakes); densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Available information on movements of colubrid snakes is limited to a small minority of species. These data indicate that nearly all species have home ranges smaller or much smaller than 25 ha (e.g., less than 3 ha, Pituophis catenifer in California, Rodriguez-Robles 2003), with some up to about 75 ha (Heterodon platirhinos, average 50 ha, Plummer and Mills 2000), and the largest up to 225 ha in the biggest colubrids (Drymarchon, summer mean 50-100 ha, USFWS 1998).

Radiotelemetry data for Pantherophis indicate that residents of hibernacula that are 1-2 km apart (with suitable intervening habitat) probably interbreed (Prior et al. 1997, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead 2002). However, "evidence of genetic structure even over short distances (e.g., 2-20 km) implies that gene flow among rat snake populations can be easily disrupted" (Prior et al. 1997). Loughheed et al. (1999) found evidence of substantial genetic exchange among local hibernacula (< 6 km apart), but gene flow over distances of 10s of km appears to be substantially less. Based on extensive radio-tracking data, Blouin-Demers and Weatherhead (2002) found that home range size of Pantherophis averaged 18.5 ha and ranged up to 93 ha; based on the most mobile individuals, Pantherophis from hibernacula up to 8 km apart can come together for mating. Pantherophis and probably other colubrids exhibit high fidelity to hibernacula and shift even to nearby sites only rarely (Prior et al. 2001).

Many of the several studies that report small home ranges for colubrids did not employ methods (e.g., radio telemetry) suitable for detecting full annual or multi-annual home range size, dispersal, or other long-distance movements, so these may have yielded underestimates of home ranges or activity areas.

At least some colubrids, including medium-sized species such as garter snakes, not uncommonly move between areas up to a few kilometers apart, and several species make extensive movements of up to several kilometers, so separation distances of 1-2 km for suitable habitat are too small for medium-sized and large colubrids.

A separation distance of 10 km for suitable habitat was selected as most appropriate for snakes assigned to this Specs Group because it seems generally unlikely that two locations separated by less than 10 km of suitable habitat would represent distinct occurrences.

For the purposes of these occurrence specifications, upland habitat is regarded as unsuitable habitat for aquatic and wetland snakes. For upland snakes, shallow or patchy wetlands are treated as unsuitable habitat whereas large deepwater habitats (subjective determination) are barriers.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Date: 12Feb2013
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: Separation distance for suitable habitat was changed from 5 km to 10 km based on comments from Dale Jackson (12 Feb 2013).
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05Dec2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05Dec2005
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • California Department of Fish and Game (CDF&G). 1990. 1989 annual report on the status of California's state listed threatened and endangered plants and animals. 188 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2012. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. 7th edition. SSAR Herpetological Circular 39:1-92.

  • Grismer, L. L. 1990. Relationships, taxonomy, and biogeography of the MASTICOPHIS LATERALIS complex in Baja California. Herpetologica 46:66-77.

  • Grismer, L. L. 2002. Amphibians and reptiles of Baja California including its Pacific islands and islands in the Sea of Cortes. University of California Press, Berkeley. xiii + 399 pp.

  • Grismer, L. L., and C. R. Mahrdt. 1996. Geographic distribution: MASTICOPHIS LATERALIS LATERALIS. Herpetological Review 27:34.

  • Hammerson, G. A. 1979. Thermal ecology of the striped racer, MASTICOPHIS LATERALIS. Herpetologica 35:267-273.

  • Jennings, M. R. 1983. MASTICOPHIS LATERALIS. Cat. Am. Amph. Rept. 343.1-343.2.

  • McGinnis, S. M. 1992. Habitat requirements, distribution, and current status of the Alameda whipsnake (MASTICOPHIS LATERALIS EURYXANTHUS). Report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California. 26 pp.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985a. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. xiv + 336 pp.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 2003. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 5 December 1997. Determination of endangered status for the callippe silverspot butterfly and the Behren's silverspot butterfly and threatened status for the Alameda whipsnake. Federal Register 62(234):64306-64320.

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