Habitat alteration and destruction
Mortality through predation
The Antiguan Racer is one of the rarest snake species that can only be found in the eastern Caribbean. This Great Bird Island endemic reptile is classified as an opisthoglyphous snake which means ‘rear-fanged’ in the vernacular language.
This racer from the Alsophis genus is harmless to humans but is an ambush predator with a preference for lizards including the Antiguan ground lizard. It exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females generally larger than males. This diurnal snake species has no natural predator although it has poor resistance against snake mites.
Before the European colonizers arrived in Antigua and Barbuda in the late 15th century, the Antiguan Racers abound in the thick forest. As the islands are converted into sugarcane plantations, this forced the snakes out of its natural habitat range and decimated its favoured food source. This also brought about predators such as rats and mongooses which drove the Antiguan racers to near extinction. Today, what’s left of the snake population are threatened by flooding, drought, deliberate hunting, or diseases caused by inbreeding.