Flowered racer (Platyceps florulentus)

Also known as: flowered whip snake, Geoffroy’s racer, Geoffroys’ racer
Synonyms: Coluber florulentus, Coluber keniensis, Haemorrhois florulentus, Zamenis florulentus
GenusPlatyceps (1)
SizeTotal length: up to 109 cm (2) (3)
Tail length: up to 22 cm (2) (3)
Top facts

The flowered racer is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The flowered racer (Platyceps florulentus) is a moderately sized snake with a slender body and long snout. The upper surface of its body is greyish-brown, usually patterned along its length with a series of darker brown bars and spots. The pattern fades towards the tail (2) (3) (4).

The upper surface of the flowered racer’s head usually has symmetrical dark markings, sometimes edged with white, but in some individuals it may be a uniform olive colour. There is a dark band below each eye, and the scales around the mouth are yellowish, usually with blackish centres (2) (3). The underside of the flowered racer is yellowish or red, with a dark spot at the end of each scale (2) (3).

Juvenile flowered racers have more distinct markings than the adults. Some adult flowered racers can appear uniform brown, with an absence of dark markings (2) (4).

The flowered racer is sometimes divided into three subspecies: Platyceps florulentus florulentus, Platyceps florulentus keniensis and Platyceps florulentus perreti (5).

The flowered racer is found in northeast Africa, from Egypt south along the Nile Valley to Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda (1) (4) (5). Isolated populations also occur in Nigeria and Cameroon (1) (5).

This species inhabits a number of habitats, including agricultural fields, semi-desert, dry savanna, wetlands, and sometimes rural gardens and old buildings (1) (4). The flowered racer occurs at elevations from sea level to about 2,400 metres (1).

Little specific information is available on the biology of the flowered racer. However, like other racers it is likely to be active during the day, including at dusk and dawn (4). As in closely related species, its diet probably includes a range of insects and small vertebrates, among them amphibians (4). The hunting method of racers usually depends on their sharp eyesight, swift responses and agility, which allow them to actively chase down their prey (6).

Like most other members of the Colubridae family, the flowered racer lays eggs (1) (6). Little else is known about the breeding behaviour of this species.

The flowered racer is a fairly common species with a widespread distribution, and is relatively tolerant to habitats that have been disturbed by humans (1). However, it is believed to be undergoing a slight population decline (1) (4).

The main threats to the flowered racer are likely to come from persecution and from collection for the pet trade in Egypt. This species may also be affected by the use of rodent poisons in some areas. There is no evidence, however, that these threats are a significant problem across its range (1).

At present, there are no known specific conservation measures in place for this racer. However, the flowered racer inhabits a number of protected areas within its range, which may offer it some protection (1).

Recommended conservation measures for this poorly known snake include further research into its population trends and the levels of collection for the pet trade (1).

Find out more about the flowered racer and other reptiles:

More information on reptile conservation:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. Anderson, J. (1898) Zoology of Egypt. 1. Reptilia and Batrachia. Bernard Quaritch, London.
  3. Boulenger, G.A. (1893) Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume 1. British Museum, London.
  4. Baha El Din, S. (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
  5. The Reptile Database (March, 2011)
  6. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.