Mariposa Vet Wellness Center
Species group: Corn and Rat Snakes
Other common names: Everglades Ratsnake; Scaleless Everglades Ratsnake
Scientific name: Elaphe obsoleta rossalleni
The Everglades Rat Snake is a subspecies of the Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta), and is native to southern Florida, United States. It is found in a variety of habitats, including hardwood forests, cypress swamplands, and pinelands.
Appearance / health:
Everglades Rat Snakes average 3 to 4 feet in length and are a yellow-orange color.
Behavior / temperament:
Everglades Rat Snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive but can strike if provoked. They hunt mostly during the day but in some areas, they are seen also active at night.
The adult Everglades Rat Snake is best housed in a 4x5-foot woodland terrarium with a number of hiding places on the ground and some climbing branches. Substrate must be quick drying (like newspaper, paper towels, or pine shavings) and never sand or gravel. The cage must be escape-proof because Rat Snakes are very active and adapts to various habitats. The terrarium should be equipped with an appropriately sized bathing pan. Day temp: 71-82F; night temp: 64-68F; basking temp: 82-90F; humidity: 60-70%; lighting: 12 hours, partly UV.
Everglades Rat Snakes feed on appropriately sized rodents, chicks, birds, and other snakes. As constrictors, they squeeze and suffocate their prey before eating them. Some snakes attempt to down a large prey, only to regurgitate it later. After feeding, they will tuck inside a hiding place to digest their food for at least 48 hours.
Everglades Rat Snakes are egg-layers. Females are ready to breed in two years, although young adults have smaller and fewer eggs than older ones. Average clutch size is 20 eggs that hatch in about 9-10 weeks.
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The Beauty of the Everglades
When looking for a snake there are many things that should be considered. How much do I intend on handling this animals? What size does it grow too, and therefore, what size enclosure do I need? Luckily, if you have room for a 2 to 3 foot tall enclosure, you are likely looking in the right place. The rat snake family as a species covers many different breeds of snake. Most commonly owned being corn snakes. The Hypo Everglades Rat Snake (hypo for short) will give you a display of warm colors and quirky but fun behavioral patterns. To note, these snakes do enjoy climbing, and it would be a smart idea to place an apparatus (branches or tall sturdy decorations/vines) that will fulfill those needs. Commonly a mixture of orange and yellow in color, your rat snake will easily be noticed in your tank. Being constrictors, your snakes will also crush and swallow their prey. This is good for you as an owner, this ultimately means that there will be less personal risk involved in getting this particular species to be handle friendly. In general, many snakes have and will always have a feeding reaction (when they see the hand that feeds enter their domain they display warning signs and or strike) the fact that they lack any venom will be helpful) although larger and older specimens can cause pain and damage with a bite, it is generally minimal in nature depending on the conditions in which the bite is obtained and how frequently it occurs. On a side note, now would be the important time to state that if your snake is continually attacking you, it probably wants to be left alone. This is advisable, as snakes are very good at letting you know how they feel. Like other snakes they enjoy a warm environment with a little humidity (varying based on type of rat snake and substrate) and will become very active when exposed to low tones and vibrations (any bass songs or action movies). On a personal note, mine seems to prefer horror movies and wrestling as its main sources of entertainment (he comes out to play more often when these things are on). This may also be an appropriate time to explain handling. Like most snakes, when feeding, avoid handling, this includes about a day before, during and several days after feeding to allow for the best experience for your snake. Lack of handling a day prior will result in less feeding reaction (bites) and allow the snake to be comfortable before it has its meal. The animals stress levels are paramount to this fact. If they are low, it will aid in the longevity and digestion of food, if high it will result in a snake that is sadly short lived and aggressive. You wouldn't like it if someone was poking at you while you tried to eat would you? Of course not, and neither does your snake. Your snake should not be kept merely for enjoyment of feeding time, but because you have a genuine interest in the animal. In fact, it is better off to feed frozen to your snake once they get above the 35-40 centimeter mark as the larger the snake, the larger the prey, the larger the chance for injury to your snake from its meal. Don't forget, that big snake has to take on an equally large mouse and or rat (they can do as much damage to your snake as your snake can to them) which is why feeding pre-killed thawed food is a great and safe alternative. As a benefit, the food becomes much easier to store. However, once a cycle of pre-killed food is established, it is extremely unadvisable to attempt feeding live as snakes can lack the strength to take on their prey. All this factored together, providing a safe, happy and healthy life for your hypo everglades rat snake is easy. They do not require massive amounts of space and gradually become very handle friendly. The food they eat once moved over to frozen takes no space to keep, and in case of live feedings, can be purchased as needed. There is no tank of crickets needed, no large quantities of mice as like many other snakes, a hypo takes time to digest and grow. They can measure up to 36 inches long on average (70-75 centimeters) and in world record cases up to 87 inches (200+) although those a very isolated incidences and occur in the wild. As a final note, it is important to remember that these are smart animals that can and will find a way out of your hands, and the tank you so lovingly provide them with. As a result, I would recommend you get an enclosure with locks, preferably built in. It is also important to be aware of the movement of your snake, you will know when that friendly adoration has turned into its master escape plan. All this being considered, these are probably some of the brightest and friendliest constrictors you can find. As an added benefit, they have a low start up cost, and low maintenance cost. Finally, they are burrowers and like to hide (especially under the provided water dish and or feeding dish) so they will be hiding some times. This is not to worry though, as it is a natural habit of the animal. All that is left to decide is whether or not you want to experience the beauty of the everglades..
From ManoftheNorth Apr 1 2014 3:55PM
Gorgeous, Hardy-and in Trouble!
This snake has recently been re-classified as a color variant of the Eastern (formerly “Black”) ratsnake. However, I and other old timers remain fans of the original name…more so because the Latin was given in honor of snake legend Ross Allen. Whether in my own collection or the zoo exhibits I designed, this snake’s size, unique colors, and semi-arboreal lifestyle always drew attention.
Unfortunately, changing land use patterns in south Florida have brought it into contact with the more common yellow ratsnake, with which it readily inter-breeds. Friends within its range tell me that “pure” wild examples are now scarce. Some breeders have maintained groups that have not been hybridized – please search these out if you wish to keep this beautiful snake.
Everglades ratsnakes are quite hardy and adaptable (I kept a pair with a group of young alligators at the Bronx Zoo – they spend all their time in the trees, and did fine). Their care is as for any American ratsnake – just be sure to plan for a sizable enclosure, as they may reach 6 feet in length, and love to climb..
From findiviglio Jan 5 2016 5:20PM