Tiger Rat Snake AKA Tropical Chicken Snake, Whip Snake, Tiger Racer
|Scientific name: Spilotes
forests and heavily wooded grasslands
|Diet in the wild: mice,
rats, birds, lizards, frogs,and almost any small animal that they
can get their mouths around
|Diet in the zoo: Mice
|Location in the zoo: Herpetarium
Body length up to 10'-12'.
Weight: no more than 10 pounds
Color: alternating yellow
and black patchy
bands, diagonal over the midbody and becoming vertical at the tail.
Head is usually yellow
with very big eyes.
Underside of snake is
Mexican Tiger Rat Snake is one of the longest snakes of the Americas.
Since the snake lives in areas with tall trees and vegetation, their
special color patterns of yellow and black help them blend in perfectly
with the speckled sunlight shining down through the trees.
This particular species of
snake is usually very docile when left alone, but when provoked they
will shake their tails (despite not having a rattle) and hiss very
loudly. They can also inflate their necks dramatically.
If this does not warn off the intruder, then the Mexican Tiger Rat
Snake will strike repeatedly.
Mexican tiger rat snakes are
oviparous and the hatched young resemble their parents.
The colors of young snakes may become either a little darker or paler
as they age, depending on subspecies or population, but there is no
dramatic change in pattern. Some juvenile Tiger Rat Snakes
have deeper golden or orange banding around the midsection; only the
Mexican subspecies retains the deeper color as the adult.
The growth of snakes is indeterminate
-- they continue to grow throughout their lifetimes.
Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:
The Mexican Tiger Rat Snake is
a superb hunter. Their primary sense for seeking out prey is their
acute eyesight. With very enlarged eyes, their vision ranks among
the highest of all serpents. They seem to gauge distance by trangulation,
moving their heads from side to side like a hawk or owl. Their other
deadly weapon is their speed. Mexican Tiger Rat Snakes are extremely
quick and by the time their prey has spotted them, it is usually too late.
Although they are capable of constricting their prey, they normally just
swallow them alive. They have indeed been described as being
one of the "the fastest ophidian swallowers in the West (Blais)."
Mexican Tiger Rat Snake at the Fort Worth Zoo.
Comments about the Mexican Tiger Rat Snakes of the
Fort Worth Zoo:
The Fort Worth Zoo has one male
and one female Mexican Tiger Rat Snake. However, the zoo has been
yet to hatch any babies from the fairly juvenile pair. These two
snakes can be very rewarding to watch because they are usually active during
the day, unlike many of the more nocturnal snakes at the zoo.
Unlike many of the snakes that
can be found at the Zoo, these two snakes always seem to be exploring the
confines of their provided habitat. Maybe they are just curious by nature,
or maybe they are looking for a way out!
and Amphibians at the Fort Worth Zoo