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Radiated Ratsnake

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Is the Radiated Ratsnake right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Copperhead Ratsnake, Copper-headed Trinket Snake, Copperhead Racer

Scientific name: Coelognathus (formerly Elaphe) radiatus

The basics:
The Radiated Ratsnake is one of the largest and most widely-distributed of all Asian ratsnakes. Many snake enthusiasts consider it to be the most attractive as well. The huge range extends across much of South and Southeast Asia, from India and Nepal through Bangladesh, south China, Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia to Indonesia and Malaysia; Singapore, Hong Kong and other offshore islands are occupied as well. It adapts to a wide variety of habitats, including rainforest edges, marshes, overgrown fields, thickets along canals, farms, and rocky mountainsides to an elevation of over 4,000 feet. The Radiated Ratsnake is largely terrestrial, but also forages in trees and bushes.

Appearance / health:
Local Radiated Ratsnake populations vary in appearance from one another, but all are striking creatures. The ground color of yellow, tan or reddish-brown is marked by bold black dorsal and lateral stripes, mainly concentrated on front half of the body. Largely-white and albino strains have been developed by hobbyists. Adults average 5 to slightly over 6 feet in length.

Behavior / temperament:
Wild-caught Radiated Ratsnakes are invariably shy, high-strung and quick to bite. Captive individuals are usually somewhat calmer in demeanor, but they generally remain ill-at-ease when removed from their terrarium; caution must be exercised when they are handled.

Housing:
Radiated 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, as they typically have problems shedding in dry surroundings. Ambient temperature: 76-84 F; Basking temperature: 88-90 F.

Adult Radiated 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. Wild-caught individuals, still common in the pet trade, should be checked for parasites by a veterinarian.

Diet:
Wild Radiated Ratsnakes consume a wide variety of foods, including squirrels, rats, mice, possums, bats, birds, voles, frogs and lizards. They frequently colonize farms, where they are valued as rat-killers and defiled as chicken thieves. Pets do well on a diet comprised of mice and rats. Youngsters feed primarily on frogs and lizards in the wild, and may refuse mice. Scenting a pink mouse with a frog or anole may induce feeding.

Breeding:
Female Radiated Ratsnakes do not require a cooling-off period prior to the breeding season, and may produce several clutches each year. Clutches typically contain 5-12 eggs. At an incubation temperature of 82-85 F, they typically hatch within 60-70 days.

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