Species group: Corn and Rat Snakes
Other common names: Japanese Four-lined Satsnake
Scientific name: Elaphe quadrivirgata
The Basics: The Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnake is widely-distributed throughout Japan. Its range extends from the Russian Kurile Islands (Kunashir Island) south through most of Japan to the southern island of Kyushu.
It adapts to a wide variety of habitats, including forest edges, swamps, overgrown fields, thickets along canals, farms, rocky mountainsides and even urban and suburban parks and gardens.
Appearance / Health: Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnake populations vary greatly in appearance, ranging from light yellow through various shades of brown to jet-black. Most are marked with 4 black lines along the body, but in others the stripes are broken up or absent.
Adults range from 2.5 to 5 feet in length.
Behavior / temperament: Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnakes are somewhat shy and may be quick to bite. Captive individuals usually become calmer in demeanor, but caution must be exercised when they are handled.
Housing: Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnakes are rather active, and should be provided with proportionally larger accommodations than their American counterparts. While a 55-75 gallon aquarium will suit small adult, larger individuals are best provided custom-built cages measuring at least 4 x 5 feet. Newspapers, cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials may be used as substrates. Stout climbing branches will be well-used. A dry shelter and another stocked with moist sphagnum moss should be provided.
Ambient temperature: 77-84 F; Basking temperature: 88 F.
Adult Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnakes are sizable creatures that produce copious amounts of fecal material which must be removed regularly. The enclosure should be misted daily and thoroughly cleaned each 2-4 weeks.
Diet: Wild Japanese Four-Lined Ratsnakes prey primarily upon frogs and lizards. Pets do well on a diet comprised of mice and rats, but some adults, and many hatchlings may refuse mice. Scenting a mouse with a frog or anole may induce feeding.
Breeding: Breeding is spurred by a cooling-off period of 3 months at 50-55 F. Clutches typically contain 3-20 eggs. At an incubation temperature of 78-82 F, the 12-15 inch long youngsters hatch within 60-70 days.
Written by Frank Indiviglio