Sahara racer (Platyceps saharicus)

Sahara racer in habitat
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Sahara racer fact file

Sahara racer description

GenusPlatyceps (1)

The Sahara racer (Platyceps saharicus) is a long, slender snake with a narrow head and black spots below its large eyes. Little other information is available on the appearance of this species, but the colour of its scales becomes more uniform closer to the tail (2).

The Sahara racer has only been considered a separate species to the wadi racer (Platyceps rhodorachis) since 2004 (3).

Also known as
Saharan cliff racer.
Coluber florulentus, Coluber rhodorachis, Zamenis rhodorhachis, Zamenis ventrimaculatus.
Length: up to 150 cm (2)

Sahara racer biology

Very little is known about the biology of the Sahara racer. It is possible that its diet and behaviour resemble those of the closely related wadi racer (P. rhodorachis), which is active during the day or at dawn and dusk, and is a fast, agile hunter. The wadi racer hunts fish, tadpoles and possibly other snakes, and lack venomous fangs, although its saliva may have a mildly toxic effect (4).

As part of the Colubridae family, the Sahara racer is likely to lay eggs (5).


Sahara racer range

The Sahara racer is found in North Africa and the Middle East (3), from southeast Algeria (2), through Libya, Chad, Sudan and Jordan, and into Saudi Arabia (1).


Sahara racer habitat

There is little information available on the habitat preferences of the Sahara racer. However, in some locations it has been reported at water holes along riverbeds, in sandy and rocky areas (2). Individuals have been observed both in the water and crawling among rocks beside it (2).


Sahara racer status

The Sahara racer has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Sahara racer threats

The Sahara racer is not known to be facing any major threats. In the Mediterranean region, this species has been classified as Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN criteria (6), but there is a lack of information on its conservation status across its range.


Sahara racer conservation

There are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for the Sahara racer.


Find out more

Find out more about the Sahara 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:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


  1. The Reptile Database (March, 2011)
  2. Geniez, P. and Gauthier, Y. (2008) On the distribution of Platyceps saharicus (Reptilia: Colubridae) in the Sahara. Salamandra, 44(3): 179-180.
  3. Schätti, B. and McCarthy, C. (2004) Saharo-Arabian racers of the Platyceps rhodorachis complex: description of a new species (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubrinae). Revue Suisse de Zoologie, 111(4): 691-705.
  4. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Cox, N., Chanson, J. and Stuart, S. (2006) The Status and Distribution of Reptiles and Amphibians of the Mediterranean Basin. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:

Image credit

Sahara racer in habitat  
Sahara racer in habitat

© Olivier Peyre - NATURALIA

Peyre Olivier
Rue Durrell
BP 41223 84140 AVIGNON cedex 9
Tel: 0033 4 90 84 17 95


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