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Cribo

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Species group:

Other common names: Yellow-Tailed Cribo; Yellowtail Cribo

Scientific name: Drymarchon corais corais

The basics:
The Cribo, a southern relative of the popular Indigo Snake, is one of the longest of all snakes in the Western Hemisphere. Its range is quite large, extending from Mexico through Central America and northern South America (including Trinidad and Tobago) to Brazil and northern Argentina. In parts of Central America, it hybridizes with 3 related subspecies, the Red-Tailed, Black-Tailed and Gray Cribos. The Cribo favors large, undisturbed tracts of open woodland, llanos, wooded savannas, marshes, and mangrove swamps, but also colonizes cattle ranches and farms. It often shelters and deposits its eggs within rabbit, rodent and tortoise burrows.

Appearance / health:
Robust and alert, this exceptionally-attractive snake may exceed 10 feet in length. Its coloration is most unique, being dark brown to blue-black on fore-body and fading to yellow, olive or golden-tan from mid-body to tail. When travelling at full speed, it is spectacular to behold. Captive bred strains exhibiting bright yellow coloration are being developed.

Behavior / temperament:
Wild-caught Cribos make a great show of flattening their heads, hissing and vibrating the tail when approached. Although considered to be the most aggressive members of their group, many will tame-down in time; better results can be achieved with captive-bred individuals. Alert and aware of their surroundings, Cribos seem more responsive to people than other snakes. However, they tend to move about when held, and can be difficult to control. Bites can occur, as even well-adjusted individuals may strike at nearby movements.

Housing:
Cribos are extremely active. They can be started off in 55 gallon terrariums, but an adult requires a custom-built cage measuring at least 6 x 4 feet. Cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials may be used as substrates. Newspapers tend to become displaced and shredded by their activities, and render cleaning difficult (please see below). A dry shelter and another stocked with moist sphagnum moss should be provided. The enclosure’s screen lid must be secured by cage clips. Ambient temperature: 72-85 F; Basking temperature: 88-90 F

Cribos produce copious, watery waste products and require more upkeep than similarly-sized snakes. They are best kept on cypress mulch and other absorbent substrates. The tank should be misted daily, and the moss within their cave kept slightly moist.

Diet:
Like their cousins the Indigo Snakes, Cribos feed on a wide assortment of animals, and are able to overcome rattlesnakes and other venomous species. Rabbits, ground squirrels and other rodents, possums, bats, birds and their eggs, lizards, frogs and even fish and small turtles are also taken. Amazingly (or horrifyingly, depending on the size and vigor of their prey!), they do not utilize constriction, but merely grab and swallow their victims. Although pets do well on a diet comprised of mice and rats, there is some evidence that they benefit from a more varied diet that includes fish, small cavies, chicks and similar foods. Cribos should be offered smaller meals than might indicated by their size, as their jaws do not stretch to the same extent as do those of other snakes. Because of this, and their unusually-high metabolisms, Cribos often need 2 weekly feedings. They drink a great deal, and should have access to a water bowl large enough for soaking.

Breeding:
A slight drop in temperature (70 F by night, 80 F by day) will stimulate breeding. Pairs must be monitored carefully, as males may bite females during courtship. A typical clutch contains 6-12 eggs, which should be incubated in vermiculite at 75 F for 110-120 days. The hatchlings measure 18-24 inches in length, and can take fuzzies or small mice right away.