Serperior has got to be one of the most frustrating entries on Bulbapedia. If it's a snake and has "green" or "royal" in the name, people instantly assume it must have some ties to Serperior, the final evolution of the Snivy family. The grass and vine snakes I will validate; there is one, however, that seems to have escaped the public's eye entirely. Hell, I didn't even know this snake existed until one of my kingsnake.com escapades:
|From captivebredreptiles.uk forums.
Meet Baron's Racer (Philodryas baroni). It lives in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. Like most snakes, it eats small mammals and birds, as well as fish and amphibians. As the Greek name might indicate, it's arboreal ("likes trees") and can also be found around salt flats. It will flee before anything else, hence "racer." Oh, and it looks a whole lot like a member of the Snivy family. Not dismissing the vine snake theory (which I admit is likely), but this similarity is just creepy. (Plus, if you're citing the royal python just because of the name, surely "baron" qualifies as well.)
Click around enough Baron's Racer pages and one will notice that they have a fair amount of natural color morphs. The wild versions come in green (like Snivy) and brown. Captive breeders have also been working on a bright blue morph (as they have with rhinoceros rat snakes as well). Hello, Shiny Serperior!
|Japan definitely knows about this.
Baron's Racers, although not really harmful to humans, are technically rear-fanged venomous (as are some vine snakes). This means that they have some venomous fangs toward the back of their mouths. Symptoms of envenomation include localized swelling and inflammation, with symptoms progressing slightly upwards from the site. All symptoms ceased after 48 hours. Nothing to worry about, but, from personal experience (with a different snake, mind) still a little freaky. There have been no fatalities from Baron's Racers.
Along with looking like a Snivy, these snakes have one other neat trait: they can glide from tree to tree. This is an example of convergent evolution with the Chrysopeleia complex, also known as Paradise Tree Snakes. The Paradise Tree Snakes are native to Southeast Asia, as are the Ahaetulla vine snakes. There are quite a lot of such examples of convergence, including a rather striking one that I intended to cover earlier on this blog...but will salvage and polish up this coming week.
Baron's Racers are uncommon in the exotic pet business. They are not particularly hard to take care of, but not many people have them. The captive breeding age is about normal, with 3 years as the breeding age for females. The only reason they aren't more common is simply because not many have been imported. There are several good captive breeders, however, so please ask one of them if you want your own pet Snivy. Have a credit card or good ball python morphs ready; prepare to pay at least 150 USD and shipping.
(Interesting side-note: While working on a report, I found another bit to chew on relating to Serperior. Although Thai art is never explicitly cited as a source, the resemblance of a naga - a regal, jacketed snake- being eaten/vomited up by a makara to Serperior's own 'jacket' and stubby limbs is uncanny...and kinda disturbing. I'm probably just seeing things this time around, but the serpent devouring/vomiting is a pretty common recurring theme. This was just the first time I had seen it serpent-on-serpent. More here.)
C'mon, Bulba-people. Get your hands a little bit dirty in the exotic pet trade - or some good reptile books - next time a snake comes around. Maybe I'll have to make use of that account...