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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Eastern and Western Yellow-bellied Racers in Canada

Special Significance of the Species

The Racer, Coluber constrictor, is the only species in the genus, Coluber, Family Colubridae, in North America. All three Canadian subspecies are at the most northern extent of their range, where their populations are small and limited by habitat and constraints on reproduction. Coluber c. flaviventris and C. c. mormon occur in the mixed-grass prairie in Saskatchewan and in the Great Basin in British Columbia. Peripheral populations often have high conservation value because they can be genetically divergent from the southern/central populations (Lesica and Allendorf 1995). Both subspecies may show adaptive traits that are unique to Canada’s colder climate. As predators of grasshoppers and other insects, Racers could dampen population increases of these insects. It is the fastest snake in Canada.