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Parrot Snake

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Is the Parrot Snake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Lora, Green Whipsnake

Scientific name: Leptophis ahaetulla

The basics:
Beautiful but high strung and delicate in captivity, Parrot Snakes are best considered as suitable for display in zoos rather than private collections. A professional herpetologist should be consulted before one acquires a Rear-Fanged Snake of any species.

The Parrot Snake has a huge range that extends from southern Mexico through Central America to central Argentina. It also occurs on Margarita Island, Trinidad and Tobago.

Highly arboreal, the Parrot Snake inhabits rainforests, dry deciduous forests, secondary growth thickets, and fruit plantations.

Appearance / health:
Parrot Snakes range from green to blue-green in coloration, with some populations exhibiting beautiful hues of copper and/or bronze over the background color. The body is laterally-compressed, apparently as an adaptation to moving among dense vines and branches, and the eyes are quite large. Adults average 3.5 to 4.5 feet in length; the rare 5.5 to 6 foot-long individual is occasionally reported.

Behavior / temperament:
Parrot Snakes are best viewed as creatures to observe rather than handle. Particular care should be taken at feeding time, as they respond vigorously to the scent of food, and will strike wildly.

Housing:
Parrot Snakes are best housed in vertically-oriented tropical rainforest terrariums of at least 55 gallons in size, or custom-built cages. The enclosure should be provided with numerous vines and branches. Orchid bark or similar substrates are preferable to newspapers as a substrate. Hanging live or artificial plants should be positioned over branches to act as sheltering sites; some individuals will also utilize small “bird houses” as retreats; Parrot Snakes will not thrive in bare cages or those that do not allow them to remain above-ground. Fresh water in a large pan should be available. Like many arboreal snakes, Parrot Snakes will also drink from water sprayed onto the body coils. There is some evidence that UVB exposure may be of value to their health. Day temperature: 75-82 F; basking temperature: 86-90 F.

Droppings should be removed in a manner that does not disturb the snakes or expose one to a bite. The cage should be heavily misted each day, but must dry out and not remain damp. As all individuals offered for sale will likely be wild-caught, newly-arrived snakes should be examined by a veterinarian experienced with venomous snakes.

Diet:
Parrot Snakes feed upon arboreal lizards, frogs and snakes; there are also anecdotal accounts of frog eggs and birds being taken, but this needs confirmation. Unlike many other lizard specialists, Parrot Snakes rarely accept lizard or frog-scented mice. They should not be kept unless a reliable source of anoles, geckos and/or small treefrogs is available as a food source.

Breeding:
Captive breeding has not yet been recorded (in published accounts). Wild females have been observed to deposit 4-6 eggs in tree cavities and among the dead leaves that collect at the bases of bromeliads and other arboreal plants. Hatchlings measure 10-12 inches in length. Much remains to be learned of their natural history.

Written by Frank Indiviglio