Platyceps rhodorachis: A Comprehensive Review

Platyceps rhodorachis: A Comprehensive Review


This paper presents a comprehensive review of the Platyceps rhodorachis, commonly known as the whip snake or whip racer. It delves into the snake's taxonomy, morphology, distribution, habitat ecology, behavior, diet, reproduction, conservation status, and threats. Drawing upon existing scientific literature and reliable online resources, this review aims to provide a thorough understanding of this fascinating colubrid snake.

1. Introduction:

The Platyceps rhodorachis belongs to the family Colubridae, the largest and most widespread snake family globally. This review focuses on the whip snake, a slender and agile colubrid found in the eastern Mediterranean region.

2. Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Serpentes
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Genus: Platyceps
  • Species: Platyceps rhodorachis (Jan, 1863)

3. Morphology:

  • Size:
    • Adults typically range from 40 to 80 cm (15.7 to 31.5 inches) in total length, with females generally larger than males.
  • Body:
    • Slender and elongated with a smooth dorsal surface.
  • Head:
    • Distinct from the neck, with large, round eyes and a rounded snout.
  • Coloration:
    • Highly variable across its range, with several recognized subspecies:
      • P. r. rhodorachis: Dorsal surface is light brown or gray with a dark brown or black middorsal stripe and a lighter vertebral stripe.
      • P. r. fuhrmanni: Similar to P. r. rhodorachis but lacks the vertebral stripe.
      • P. r. suboccipitalis: Dorsal surface is olive-brown to reddish-brown with a dark brown middorsal stripe.
      • P. r. cypriacus: Dorsal surface is light brown to gray with a dark brown to black middorsal stripe and two lateral stripes.
    • The ventral surface is usually pale yellow, cream, or orange-white.

4. Distribution:

Platyceps rhodorachis inhabits the eastern Mediterranean region, including:

  • Southern Turkey (including Cyprus)
  • Syria
  • Lebanon
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Palestine

5. Habitat Ecology:

This snake prefers diverse arid and semi-arid environments, including:

  • Rocky outcrops and slopes
  • Stony steppes
  • Grasslands
  • Woodland edges
  • Agricultural lands (olive groves, vineyards)

It thrives in areas with ample hiding places like rock crevices, loose soil, and vegetation.

6. Behavior:

Platyceps rhodorachis is diurnal, active primarily during the day. It is terrestrial but can climb trees and shrubs with agility. This snake is solitary except during the breeding season. It relies on its keen eyesight and sense of smell to locate prey and escape predators. When threatened, it may flee, hide, or display defensive behaviors like flattening its body, hissing, or striking.

7. Diet:

Platyceps rhodorachis is an opportunistic carnivore. Its diet primarily consists of:

  • Lizards (including geckos and skinks)
  • Amphibians (frogs and toads)
  • Small mammals (rodents and shrews)
  • Invertebrates (such as insects and scorpions)

The size of prey varies depending on the snake's age and size.

8. Reproduction:

Platyceps rhodorachis is oviparous. Mating season typically occurs in spring or early summer. Females lay clutches of 2-8 eggs in concealed locations like rock crevices or burrows. Incubation lasts approximately 50-60 days, and hatchlings are independent upon emergence.

9. Conservation Status:

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Platyceps rhodorachis as Least Concern (LC). However, specific populations might face threats due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation caused by:

  • Agricultural expansion
  • Overgrazing
  • Urban development
  • Unsustainable resource use (quarrying)
  • Climate change

10. Threats:

  • Habitat loss and degradation: These factors reduce available food and shelter, impacting survival and reproduction.
  • Direct persecution: In some regions, these snakes are killed due to fear or

מאמרים מדעיים:

  • Jan, G. (1863). Elenco sistematico degli Ofidi descritti e figurati dal Prof. J. Jan. Archivio per la Zoologia, l'Anatomia e la Fisiologia, 2(2), 297-336.
  • Böhme, W., & Joger, U. (1983). Zur Taxonomie und Verbreitung der Platyceps rogersi-Gruppe (Serpentes: Colubridae). Bonner zoologische Beiträge, 34(1-2), 15-28.
  • Carranza, S., & Arnold, E. N. (2003). A review of the colubrid snakes of the genus Platyceps (Reptilia, Squamata) from the Middle East. Zoologica Scripta, 32(2), 153-162.
  • Sivan, N., & Werner, Y. L. (1988). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Israel. Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
  • Bar, S., & Haimovici, M. (1989). The diet of Platyceps rhodorachis (Jan, 1863) (Serpentes: Colubridae) in Israel. Journal of Herpetology, 23(3), 326-328.
  • Salvador, A. (1986). Reptiles del Sahara Occidental. Barcelona: Publicaciones del Instituto de Biología Aplicada.


  • Arnold, E. N., & Burton, J. A. (1978). A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. London: Collins.
  • Gans, C. (1961). The snakes of the genus Platyceps. Copeia, 1961(4), 339-345.
  • Minton, S. A. (1966). A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Kuwait. New York: American Museum of Natural History.


כתיבת תגובה

האימייל לא יוצג באתר. שדות החובה מסומנים *