Long Nosed Snake

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Is the Long Nosed Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Texas Long Nosed Snake, Mexican Long Nosed Snake

Scientific name: Rhinocheilus lecontei

The basics:
The Long Nosed Snake, a brightly-colored relative of the kingsnakes, is - surprisingly to those who know this species - not very common in captivity. This situation is changing as more reptile enthusiasts become aware of its attractive appearance, manageable size, and extreme hardiness. Three subspecies range from Idaho, Kansas and California to central Mexico. Within this range, it may be found in open woodlands, thorn scrub, overgrown fields, brushy grasslands, prairies and desert fringes. Despite its huge range and bright colors, the Long Nosed Snake is not often seen due to its subterranean lifestyle. Largely nocturnal, it shelters by day in self-dug burrows or those of pocket gophers and other small mammals.

Appearance / health:
Long Nosed Snakes have (as one might expect!) long snouts that are upturned at the end. They average 2-3 feet in length, with the record being 41 inches. They are quite attractive, with varying, alternating bands of cream-spotted black, red and yellow or cream. The Mexican subspecies, Rhinocheilus lecontei antonii, sports particularly vivid colors, and is a favorite among hobbyists. The Long Nosed Snake is often confused with the venomous Coral Snake, which it appears to mimic.

Behavior / temperament:
Long Nosed Snakes are shy and secretive. When threatened, they hide the head and wave the tail about while releasing blood-tinged musk – quite un-nerving for novice snake keepers! However, most calm down quickly and adapt well to gentle handling.

Long Nosed Snakes are undemanding in their housing requirements; adults do fine in 20-30 gallon terrariums. Aspen or a similar substrate that allows for burrowing should be supplied. A length of partially-buried PVC pipe makes an ideal shelter, but traditional hide boxes will also be accepted. The substrate must be kept dry and the enclosure’s screen lid should be secured by cage clips. Ambient temperature: 80-85 F; Basking temperature: 90 F.

Fecal material should be removed regularly and the terrarium thoroughly cleaned each 2-4 weeks. Wild-caught pets should be examined by a veterinarian. With proper care, Long Nosed Snakes can easily live into their 20’s.

Long Nosed Snakes seem to preferentially prey upon lizards, but will also take other snakes, nestling kangaroo rats, pocket mice and other small rodents, and lizard, snake and tortoise eggs. Pets do well on a diet comprised solely of mice, but scenting with a lizard may be required for some adults and all hatchlings.

Captive breeding remains infrequent, but this is likely due to the fact that many remain unaware of this beautiful snake’s potential as a pet. A 2-3 month winter cooling period of 65 F, with a basking spot of 80 F, may stimulate breeding behavior. Pairs must be monitored carefully, as bites may occur during courtship, and cannibalism is not out of the question. A typical clutch contains 4-10 eggs, which should be incubated in moist vermiculite at 80-85 F for 60-90 days. Hatchlings measure 8-11 inches in length.

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